My name is Jim Bennett. Later today, I’m going to file paperwork with the state election’s office to declare my intent to run as a candidate in the upcoming special election in Utah’s third congressional district. I intend to run as the nominee of the United Utah Party. Yesterday, the United Utah Party submitted more than the required 2,000 petition signatures necessary to become a registered political party in the state of Utah.
The elections office has been working all day yesterday and today to verify those signatures. I want to express my gratitude for the good people in the election’s office who are, even as we speak, hard at work to make that certification happen.
I began working for the United Utah Party prior to Rep. Chaffetz’s announcement that he was leaving before the end of his term. This party was not founded because of this special election, and it will endure long after this election is over. At the same time, our party recognized that this special election presented a unique opportunity to introduce ourselves to the people of Utah and to provide a political home to the people who are not at home in either of the other two parties.
I have long been one of those people. For many years, I made my living managing and working on a number of Republican campaigns in Utah, but after my father’s defeat in 2010, I became less active in Republican party politics. And a few months before Donald Trump secured the Republican nomination, I changed my voter registration from “Republican” to “unaffiliated.”
I was heartbroken to watch the Grand Old Party, the party of Lincoln and the party of Reagan, become the party of Donald Trump.
At the same time, I have never viewed the Democratic Party as a real alternative, and, unfortunately, neither have Utah voters. It has been over twenty years since a Democrat won a statewide race in Utah. Common sense would suggest that this would teach Utah Democrats to find ways to become more appealing to the electorate. Instead, they have done precisely the opposite - they’ve taken a hard turn to the left in a state that national observers have frequently called the reddest of red states. As Utah Democrats become more and more extreme, they make it clear that they are more interested in making statements than winning elections.
That’s why the Utah Republican party sees no reason to look to the center to attract voters. They know that they can go as far right as they want with no real risk of losing. And the sad truth is that they’re right. Since they don’t have to compete, they have become arrogant and unresponsive. They think Utah voters will still stick with him no matter what, because even the Utahns that don’t like it have nowhere else to go.
So I’m running for Congress to give Utahns another place to go.
I’m going to be a reform-oriented congressman. I’m going to press for changes that the two parties have resisted for far too long, like congressional accountability and term limits. I’m going to work to find a middle ground in healthcare reform and insist that Congress doesn’t exempt itself from the laws they apply to the rest of us. I’m going to take an approach on immigration and support for refugees that reflects the best of who we are as a country, always remembering that I represent a state that was founded by refugees who, like many who suffer today, were driven from their homes because of what they believed.
I should note that this campaign is in its infancy, and we are still working to get things up to speed. Right now, I’m relying on my party to help me raise money, build a campaign structure, and develop specific and detailed policy positions on any number of issues. All that will come in its time. I’m more than confident that I will have the resources I’ll need to win this race.
One advantage I have is that my name will go straight to the general election ballot, so I won’t have to compete in a primary. As Republicans and Democrats are beating themselves up to secure their nominations, I plan to spend that time visiting with the people of the Third District. Since the other two parties are not responsive to the needs of the voters, I want to be the most responsive congressional candidate that Utah has ever seen.
I’m looking forward to the adventure. And, if I may say so, I think this is going to be a whole lot of fun.