The already crowded Republican gubernatorial primary in June could add one more candidate as Republican Jan Garbett’s was thrown a legal lifeline on Monday.
KUER public radio reported Monday night that a federal judge ruled Garbett’s efforts to gather signatures to secure a spot on the ballot was unduly hampered by the COVID-19 pandemic. Instead of the 28,000 signatures needed to participate in the June primary, Judge Robert Shelby said Garbett only needed 19,040 signatures, which is 32 percent fewer.
In mid-March Gov. Gary Herbert issued an order allowing candidates to gather signatures remotely because of social distancing guidelines to stop the spread of the coronavirus. Garbett’s campaign filed suit, arguing the regulations put in place were not enough to overcome the hurdles presented by the virus. However, the obstacle was not too burdensome to stop former Gov. Jon Huntsman from getting the 28,000 signatures needed to qualify for the ballot.
If enough of Garbett’s signatures are verified by the Utah Elections Office, she would be the fifth Republican candidate to qualify for the June primary election, joining Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox, Huntsman, former Utah House Speaker Greg Hughes and former Utah GOP Chairman Thomas Wright.
The judge’s ruling applies only to Garbett.
Cox, Huntsman and Wright all used the signature path to qualify for the primary, while Hughes made the cut by receiving enough support at Saturday’s GOP convention where he finished in second place behind Cox. Garbett was the only candidate in the field who did not attempt to qualify through the convention.