Newly formed United Utah Party hoping to join ballot this year

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Utah Republicans and Democrats have joined together and formed the United Utah Party with the aim to protect faith and government reform and focus on education, immigration and taxes.

United Utah Party sent a petition to election officials with 2,700 Utah voter signatures to put the party’s candidate Jim Bennett on the House ballot as a new option for Utah voters, according to a United Utah Party press release.

Jim Bennett announces the new United Utah Party at the capitol on May 22. Bennett said he will be reform-oriented and will press for changes to the health care program. (United Utah Party)

Chair of the United Utah Party and previous county chair of the Utah Democratic Party Richard Davis said the petition is at the lieutenant governor’s office. He expects the petition to be certified by the election officials.

Davis, a BYU political science professor, said he is unsure when official Utah United Party candidates will be included on the ballot.

“The citizens of Utah deserve a party that does not carry the baggage of past partisan politics, advocates for change to better serve the people of Utah — not the political parties — and looks for new solutions while maintaining traditional values,” according to the United Utah Party website.

Davis said there’s a strong interest in this new effort, particularly among those who no longer feel at home in the two major parties.

“People are eager to bridge the divide,” Davis said in a press release. “United Utah will give them candidates they can vote for instead of having to choose between two undesirable options.”

Davis said the United Utah Party will have its own views, not just adopt ideas from either platform.

Instead of pushing agendas, United Utah Party brings together Republicans and Democrats who have not felt either party represents their more moderate, less extreme views.

Utah Election officials denied Jim Bennett’s petition to file for congress as a United Utah Party candidate. He was told he could, however, run as an independent.

The United Utah Party is hopeful to challenge the decision and get Bennett on the ballot, according to its website. Bennett has managed a number of Utah political campaigns and served five times as a delegate to the Utah State Republican Convention.

Bennett said in a press release he will press for changes such as a two-term limit and congressional accountability if he is elected. Jim also said he will work to find a middle ground health care program. Bennett said he wants to approach immigration by supporting refugees.

Vaughn Cook, a United Utah Party board member, said the party is more moderate than others and represents the public rather than the Republican delegates.

“Some will be excited to join,” Cook said. “Others will be more hesitant.”

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