My name is Jim Bennett, and I’ve been a loyal Republican for most of my life. But I’m not a Republican anymore.
My father, former Sen. Bob Bennett, was heartbroken to watch the Grand Old Party, the party of Lincoln and the party of Reagan, become the party of Donald Trump. So was I. That’s why I changed my party registration shortly after Trump secured the Republican nomination.
At the same time, I have never viewed the Democratic Party as a real alternative, and, candidly, neither have Utah voters. Common sense would suggest that repeated losses would teach Utah Democrats to find ways to become competitive. 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. They’re 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 think Utah voters will still stick with them no matter what, because even the Utahns that don’t like it have nowhere else to go.
Well, I’m running for Congress with the United Utah Party to give Utahns another place to go.
Unfortunately, the Lieutenant Governor’s Office is doing everything it can to keep me off the ballot. Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox recently said he’s enforcing rules to prevent “this very type of shenanigans” in which our party is engaged.
It would be nice if he would be willing to say this to me or any member of my party in person, yet he has refused to meet with us throughout this whole process. Instead, he and his office belittle us in the press, insisting they’re just following the rules, ignoring the fact these are rules they’re making up on the fly and selectively enforcing to the advantage of their own party.
The fact of the matter is there is no law to prevent them from letting us on the ballot, and there is a great deal of case law that insists government should always err on the side of providing more ballot access, not less. But now, as our party moves forward with legal action to protect our constitutional rights, they’re preparing to spend tens of thousands of taxpayer dollars to make sure Utahns don’t have another choice.
Why? What are they so afraid of?
The answer to that question is simple. My candidacy represents a legitimate challenge to the one-party state. In addition, 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 for common-sense healthcare reform and that will apply to Congress as well as everyone else. 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.
One advantage I have is that when our party succeeds in its legal challenge, 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.
This article was originally published in The Daily Herald: http://www.heraldextra.com/news/opinion/local-guest-opinions/guest-opinion-why-is-the-gop-so-afraid-of-me/article_9534d778-72c5-577c-a79b-46033ca624ca.html