The August GOP primary in the 3rd District could be a three-way race

There will be at least two Republicans on the August primary ballot for the special election in Utah’s 3rd Congressional District, and a third may join them on Saturday.

Provo Mayor John Curtis submitted 15,000 signatures to the Lt. Governor’s office on Monday, more than twice the number he needs to secure a place on the primary ballot. Unless more than half of those signatures are thrown out, Curtis will advance to the primary.

“We knew we needed a margin of error,” Curtis said of the astonishing number of signatures he turned in on Monday. “We mostly used volunteers, who have a higher rate of non-qualified signatures, so we needed to have that buffer.”

Curtis told on Friday he was using some paid staffers to help gather signatures in addition to the volunteers.

It won’t be just Curtis on the August ballot as the Utah Elections Office confirmed on Monday that Tanner Ainge’s signatures had passed muster, giving the political newcomer a guaranteed place in August.

On Saturday, GOP delegates in the 3rd District will advance a candidate to the August primary. There are 12 candidates vying for the delegate nomination on Saturday, including Curtis. If Curtis wins that delegate vote, which is unlikely, there will be two candidates in the GOP primary. If another candidate secures the delegate nomination, it will be a 3-way race.

The leading candidates to win the GOP delegate vote on Saturday are State Senators Margaret Dayton, R-Orem, and Deidre Henderson, R-Spanish Fork along with Rep. Brad Daw, R-Orem.

“I’m the underdog, and that’s why we needed the signatures,” said Curtis.

If, as expected, three candidates advance to the August primary, it brings up the “plurality” issue that Republicans have feared since the passage of SB54, which allowed candidates to either gather signatures or use the delegate/convention system in elections. That means it’s entirely possible that the winner of the GOP nomination, and most likely the November election, could do so with 35% of the vote in August.

Curtis isn’t worried about too many candidates on the ballot.

“This is a perfect scenario for voters,” says Curtis. “This will force us to be out there articulating our positions and giving voters more choice.”

Two other Republicans who had filed to gather signatures, Shayne Row and Brigham Cottom, failed to turn in their signatures by the Monday noon deadline. Row has also filed to go through the convention on Saturday, while Cottom is reportedly dropping out of the race.

Only registered Republicans will be allowed to vote in the August primary.

Two Democrats who were going to gather signatures to get on the ballot, Benjamin Frank, and Carl Ingwell, failed to meet the Monday deadline. They will face Kathryn Allen for the Democratic nomination at their convention also slated for Saturday.

One other candidate, Sean Whalen, turned in 300 signatures as an unaffiliated candidate and secured a spot on the November general election ballot.