State Rep. Phil Lyman, the Utah Republican Party’s convention nominee for governor, will need to find a new running mate, a judge said Friday. Lyman now has until 12:30 p.m. on Monday to name a replacement in order for that person to be listed on the primary ballot, according to the Lyman campaign.

Lyman’s first pick, a former Trump campaign official, Layne Bangerter, is not eligible for the office of lieutenant governor because he did not live in Utah for all of the five years immediately prior to the election, according to the ruling.

Utah 3rd District Court Judge Matthew Bates ruled on Friday afternoon that the office of Lt. Gov. Deidre Henderson, who oversees elections in the state, was right to deny Bangerter when he attempted to file his declaration of candidacy on Monday.

“Mr. Bangerter, I’m sorry, but I have no choice but to conclude that you are not eligible to serve as the lieutenant governor of the state of Utah,” Bates said following two hours of arguments.

“And I cannot grant a temporary restraining order ordering the lieutenant governor to put you on the ballot. I do that with great respect to the voters of the state of Utah, with your supporters, and as I said earlier, I have great respect for the cherished institutions that we have to vote for elected officials, and to run for elected office. But I run up against the Constitution of the state of Utah.”

The Lyman campaign released a statement after the ruling saying they were disappointed at Bates’ decision, calling it a “huge loss for the people of Utah.”

“Layne is such a strong candidate I’m not surprised the LG’s office raised a fight against this selection. However, we have an election to win and will be naming our new lieutenant governor candidate shortly,” Lyman said. “Layne is still committed to this campaign and is more determined than ever to help our team secure the governorship of Utah.”

What does the Utah Constitution say about running for office?

The Utah Constitution states that a candidate for the office of lieutenant governor must have been “a resident citizen of the state for five years next preceding the election.” The lawyers representing the two sides at Friday’s hearing disputed whether the requirement should be interpreted to mean the five years immediately prior to an election or five consecutive years at any point before the election. Bates determined the “plain language” of the Constitution “clearly” means the five years immediately preceding the election.

Bangerter lived in Utah for nearly 30 years until 1990, but lived in Idaho until 2021, when he moved back to Utah.

On April 29 — two days after Lyman’s win at the state GOP nominating convention against Utah Gov. Spencer Cox, 67.5%-32.5% — Bangerter was prevented from filing his declaration of candidacy by state deputy director of elections Shelly Jackson and director of elections Ryan Cowley, who both work in the lieutenant governor’s office.

They questioned Bangerter about his residency after seeing media reports casting doubt on his eligibility, according to the hearing’s list of undisputed facts. Upon learning he did not meet the requirements to run for the position, they turned Bangerter away.

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Later that day, former Lt. Gov. Greg Bell, who Henderson had designated as an “independent adviser for any complaints that may arise during the 2024 gubernatorial election,” recommended that the lieutenant governor’s office “decline (Bangerter’s) submission of declaration of candidacy” and acknowledged that Lyman and Bangerter disagreed with his interpretation of Utah law.

Friday, May 3, was the last day changes could be made to the names appearing on the primary ballot. Monday, April 29, was the final day for candidates for lieutenant governor to file for office. The assistant attorney generals representing Henderson and her elections staff said they would meet with Lyman after the court hearing to ensure he was still able to choose a running mate despite the deadline having passed.

Lyman was given until midday Monday to make a new selection, and a campaign spokesperson told the Deseret News Lyman’s running mate would appear on the ballot if he met that deadline.

How did Lyman make his case?

In Friday’s hearing, Chad Shattuck, representing Bangerter and Lyman, argued the lieutenant governor’s office engaged in election interference by overstepping its authority, not following proper procedure and making the determination on Bangerter’s candidacy without a written objection.

Shattuck highlighted what he said was ambiguity in the constitutional language, pointed to contemporary constitutions and more recent Utah laws that explicitly say “immediately preceding” and said there was a general need for courts to err on the side of allowing for candidacy.

“If it was real simple English, we wouldn’t be talking about this,” Shattuck said. “If there was an intention to have immediacy, they would have put it in there.”

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Shattuck argued the actions of the lieutenant governor’s office constituted irreparable harm to Lyman and Bangerter by costing them days of campaigning, damaging Lyman’s reputation and decreasing Lyman’s chance of winning if it appears he was unable to secure a running mate.

Shattuck said the lawsuits filed by Lyman and Bangerter were the result of procedural sloppiness by “a rogue election official” that constituted “interference with an election.”

“There’s no downside for the lieutenant governor’s office” if they were to let Bangerter onto the primary ballot “other than maybe fighting a fair race and not having to face a candidate with one arm tied behind his back,” Shattuck said to conclude his arguments.

Shattuck requested that the court compel the lieutenant governor’s office to allow Bangerter to appear on the primary ballot. If there was further questions about Bangerter’s legitimacy — for example, if it was determined the state Constitution did mean five years immediately before — then that could be litigated at a future time, he said.

The lieutenant governor’s office defends decision

Henderson and Cowley were represented by assistant state attorney generals Daniel Widdison and Joseph Adams. Widdison argued that Lyman and Bangerter were asking the court to ignore a plain reading of law and to require state officials to break their oath to the Constitution “in order to accommodate a specific candidate who simply doesn’t qualify or isn’t eligible under the language of the Constitution.”

This would represent a threat to the public interest by knowingly allowing a candidate who does not qualify for a position to appear on the primary ballot, Widdison said. The lieutenant governor’s office does have authority to make that determination, Widdison said, even if it is during a cursory review of the candidate’s qualifications.

If a candidate obviously fails to meet the requirements than election officers are authorized to act as “gate-keepers” and there is no longer the need to follow subsequent procedures like reading the qualifications to the candidate, Widdison argued.

“(Lyman and Bangerter’s) counsel talked about election integrity a lot in the briefing,” Widdison said. “And that is precisely what the lieutenant governor’s office is tasked to do to preserve the integrity of the election, which may include determining whether or not candidates who seek office are eligible for that office.”

Typically, candidates who are running for office are able to determine whether or not they are eligible for the position in question well before filing their declaration of candidacy, Widdison said. Shattuck pointed out that Lyman had only selected Bangerter as a running mate on April 26, three days before the deadline.

Midway through Widdison’s argument, Bates interupted to compliment both sides of the debate.

“This is, in my view, a very good faith dispute over the interpretation of the Constitution,” he said. “Candidly, this has been more respectful and there’s been more decorum and respect here than I see in 95% of the political dialogue these days. So thank you to both of you.”

The Republican primary election is June 25. The winner will face state Rep. Brian King, and his running mate, Rebekah Cummings, in the Nov. 5 general election.