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Incumbents may face signature-gathering opponents

SALT LAKE CITY — Utah incumbents may have to share space on primary election ballots this year with candidates who intend to gather signatures rather than go through the state's caucus and convention system.

Under SB54, a law passed in 2014 by the Utah Legislature, candidates running for office can bypass the traditional convention system for selecting primary candidates by collecting a set amount of signatures.

Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, will face a GOP primary challenge from BYU professor Chia-Chi Teng, who has already gathered the required 7,000 signatures.

Rep. Mia Love, R-Utah, won't face a primary challenger but again will go up against Democrat Doug Owens, who she narrowly defeated in 2014. Neither Love nor Owens have opted for the signature-gathering route.

Twelve incumbents in the Utah Legislature also will face signature-gathering opponents this primary election season.

Rep. Fred Cox, R-West Valley City, is being challenged by former Republican West Valley Mayor Mike Winder, who already has gathered enough signatures for a spot on the primary ballot.

The remaining 11 challengers had not filed their completed signature counts as of Friday. Candidates are required to turn signatures in two weeks before their party's convention.

According to the Utah Lieutenant Governor's Office, party conventions will be held from late March to late April.

This year, about half of the Utah Senate and every seat in the House is up for re-election.

Rep. Brad Dee, R-Ogden, is not seeking re-election, but has filed to run for Weber County Commissioner. Current Weber County Commissioner Matthew Bell has filed to run for Dee's seat.

State records show that Dee withdrew from the race after he had gathered the required 1,000 signatures to be automatically placed on the primary ballot.

Rep. Don Ipson, R-St. George, is running for the Senate seat currently held by Sen. Steve Urquhart, R-St. George. Urquhart is not seeking re-election.

Reps. Jacob Anderegg, R-Lehi, and David Lifferth, R-Eagle Mountain, have both field to as candidates for the seat being vacated by Sen. Mark Madsen, R-Saratoga Springs.

Other state lawmakers not seeking re-election include Sens. Alvin Jackson,R-Highland, and Scott Jenkins, R-Plain City; and Reps. Jack Draxler, R-North Logan; Johnny Anderson, R-Taylorsville; and Kay McIff, R-Richfield.

Longtime state Sen. Lyle Hillyard, R-Logan, will be running unopposed, as will 15 other incumbent legislators, including three Democrats.

Republican Val Potter, who has filed to replace Draxler in the House, also is running unopposed.

Eleven candidates — four Republicans, two Democrats, four third-party challengers and a write-in candidate — have filed to run for governor, including incumbent Gov. Gary Herbert.

Email: elarson@deseretnews.com