Village Square of Utah, the Utah Freedom Forum and other groups extended invitations to both the Johnson for Governor and Herbert for Governor campaigns to debate about critical Utah issues for the benefit of voters.
The Johnson for Governor campaign has willingly accepted each of these invitations. The Herbert for Governor campaign has refused each invitation.
For example, Herbert for Governor campaign manager Marty Carpenter declined the invitation from Village Square stating, "2015 is a year to focus on fulfilling his duties as Governor".
Also, Herbert for Governor deputy campaign manager Heather Groom Hawkins turned down the invitation to the Freedom Forum on the grounds that the "Governor is not an official candidate yet".
However, the Governor has hosted or plans to host multiple fundraisers in 2015 soliciting donations and spending hours with donors and special interest groups, including a Washington D.C. fundraiser later this month which seeks corporate donations up to $10,000 and a Salt Lake fundraiser which seeks donations up to $25,000. Governor Herbert has also taken the time to attend the recent fundraisers of Rep. Paul Ryan and presidential candidate, Jeb Bush while they were in Utah.
"Like many career politicians, Gov. Herbert has opted to spend time soliciting donations and talking with special interest groups instead of using that time to inform voters and debate solutions to critical Utah issues", stated Sasha Clark, Director of Communications for Jonathan Johnson for Governor. Governor Herbert has been an elected politician since 1990 and is seeking a third term as governor of Utah.
With the Count My Vote Initiative changes adopted in S.B. 54, candidates may begin gathering signatures as early as January 2016 to be on a primary ballot. With this change, voters have a right to compare the candidates side by side before that date.
Ms. Clark continued: “What many Utahns don't realize is that when then they sign a signature petition for a candidate, the Lt. Governor may reject that signature if the person has signed a signature for another candidate. It is only the first signature submitted by a candidate and approved by the Lt. Governor's office that counts under the Count My Vote Initiative. Thus, Utahns are effectively casting a soft vote when signing a signature petition. That is why frequent debates during 2015 are important.”