Will Phil Lyman concede to Spencer Cox? – Desert News

Gubernatorial candidate Phil Lyman said he is considering his legal options after losing to Utah Gov. Spencer Cox in Tuesday night’s Republican primary.

U.S. Senate candidate Trent Staggs has yet to concede his election, won by Rep. John Curtis. The Deseret News made several unsuccessful attempts to obtain comment from Staggs.

At his primary election watch party, Lyman said he would not concede the race that evening, and would not do so for a few more days, until his team analyzes the results elections. Lyman’s lawyers were working on several potential avenues of litigation regarding the two-way system for access to the primary ballot, he told his supporters.

Minutes after the Associated Press called Cox’s race, Lyman said by phone: “It’s not fair to do this 30 minutes after the polls closed.” »

Cox and Curtis responded to their opponents’ lack of concession.

Cox responded to Lyman’s refusal to concede at his campaign’s watch party Tuesday night in response to questions from reporters by saying that calling on winning opponents to concede is standard practice, regardless of the winning or losing margin.

“Conceding doesn’t mean votes don’t count. It’s not a thing,” Cox said. “I could tell you that if we had lost by 5 points, I would have called him and congratulated him. This is how we roll. …There’s decency, and then there’s whatever. I don’t care if he concedes or not, it doesn’t matter to us or me, it’s entirely up to him.

When Curtis visited the Deseret News offices Wednesday morning, he said he didn’t know how to react to Staggs not conceding the race.

“It’s not something that fits the way I would do things,” Curtis said. “And yet, that doesn’t stop us from sleeping. We look forward, not to the past. And if he chooses not to take it, I think that’s more his problem than mine. And I’m looking to the future.

Utah GOP Chairman Rob Axson distinguished between campaigns that wait to concede until all votes are cast, and candidates who “contest and undermine elections” in “a sort of denial of the facts”, which, according to him, is in the short and long term. term to the detriment of the party.

“I think it’s important for any Utahn watching these races to realize that it takes several days for the ballots to be counted,” Axson said. “And so, wanting to see the whole country as a candidate, I could understand them wanting to take the time to understand what the numbers are, what their path to victory is, or isn’t, as well as s tackle problems. many months, and sometimes even a year, of effort on their part to win the vote.”

Lyman says refusal to concede is not ‘sour grapes’

As election night wore on Tuesday, Lyman delivered a speech to hundreds of his supporters at a party in Highland, Utah, saying he would not concede because “we don’t stop the game until the end of the fourth quarter.”

“I told everyone at the debates that I would not concede until we verified the results of the election and I think that is a fair ask,” Lyman said. “It’s not a problem if I have sour grapes or if I don’t want to see reality, it’s me who wants to see reality. I think all of Utah wants to see what the reality of these election results is.

Lyman told the Deseret News that he believes statistical analyzes and third-party audits of statewide elections should “absolutely” be an automatic feature of statewide elections, in plus audits already conducted by the state Legislative Audit Committee, which he said were not fully independent.

Lyman’s New Legal Theories

On his election night, Lyman said his campaign filed a lawsuit at another campaign signature meeting and asked lawyers to look into what he described as a constitutional question.

The Deseret News could not find any record of a lawsuit being filed, and the campaign did not respond to attempts to clarify what Lyman referred to in his speech.

Lyman’s campaign submitted an intervention request to the State Records Committee to allow Lyman and running mate Natalie Clawson to intervene in an appeal seeking signature collection forms for the state senator. State Don Ipson, so they could verify whether the signatures removed from Ipson’s list “were removed from Governor Cox’s list,” the request states.

One of the underlying reasons for the request concerned the signature collection company Gathering Inc., used by Cox and Ipson. Washington County Prosecutor Eric Clarke said irregularities in collecting Ipson’s signatures were being investigated, but there was no evidence of a candidate or company that acted inappropriately. Davis County verified Cox’s signatures and they were later certified.

Weiler: Legal challenges should have been raised sooner

Legal challenges to signature collection are unlikely to be successful, said attorney and Sen. Todd Weiler, R-Woods Cross. “If these challenges were to be raised, they should have been raised in April or at least early May, before the ballots were printed and mailed. »

Signatures are considered protected information under state law — and state law also allows registered voters to designate identifying information as private. Weiler said this was done to protect people from scams and to respect their privacy. He said the hybrid system of making some voter registration records public and others private or hidden is an attempt to balance the ability of parties to verify that people are part of their party, while respecting the private life of people.

“The idea that this violates someone’s privacy is just a smokescreen,” Lyman said. “It’s just a straw man argument to stop people from doing what makes 100% sense.” »

Weiler said the issue has already been the subject of litigation, adding that he doesn’t think the challenge to Utah’s signature law will be successful. He said he has been monitoring election trials for two decades due to his various party leadership positions and elections.

“Almost all of these lawsuits are quickly settled and usually dismissed because what the courts don’t want to do is they don’t want to preempt the will of the people and say, ‘You know what? We had an election, Spencer Cox won, but I, as a judge, in this little courtroom, am going to undo all of that and say somebody else won,’” Weiler said.

On election night, Lyman said he had a lawyer review a measure in the “Utah Constitution” that “says a person who gets more than 60 percent at the convention is automatically enrolled in the general ballot”.

Although the Utah Constitution does not mention political party conventions, the Utah Republican Party Constitution includes a provision that says: “A candidate for office who receives 60 percent or more of the votes cast at any time of the voting process in the nominating state. the congresses will proceed to the general election.

In the years since the law establishing signature collection as a pathway to primaries was passed in 2014, Lyman said the “opportunity has not presented itself” to challenge the results based on what is said in the party constitution. “But it definitely applies here.”

Both Axson and Weiler said state law trumps a private political party’s governing documents.

In the absence of a court ruling, Axson said: “The rules, the statutes, the Constitution, the founding documents of this organization, the practices and even simply by habit or tradition, all of these things are superseded by law of the State, which itself is replaced by law. federal law.”

Weiler said Lyman “does not have a legal basis to rely on” because the party has previously agreed to follow state law, including regarding signature collection.

“Last fall, the Republican Party told the Utah Board of Elections that we will participate in the 2024 elections as a QPP-qualified political party, meaning we will accept signatory candidates and convention nominees” , Weiler said.

Axson reiterated the party’s support for its candidates.

“We look forward to helping all of our candidates succeed in November, regardless of how they qualified for the primary ballot, whether they are running at the convention or signing on,” Axson said. “We support our candidates.”

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