Governor hopeful Phil Lyman sues Utah over running mate’s eligibility

SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) — Controversy is stirring over Utah GOP gubernatorial candidate Phil Lyman’s choice for lieutenant governor.

Days after the Utah Republican Party ratified Lyman’s choice for running mate, Layne Bangerter, in his race for governor, the lieutenant governor’s office reportedly rejected Bangerter’s declaration of candidacy.

The reasoning? Bangerter was not a resident of Utah in the five consecutive years preceding the 2024 election.

The denial came at the recommendation of former Utah Lt. Gov. Greg Bell. Bell was selected in March to be an independent advisor for the governor’s race in order to help avoid election interference as current Lt. Gov. Deidre Henderson was campaigning for re-election along with Gov. Spencer Cox.

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As part of his recommendation to deny Bangerter’s candidacy, Bell said Bangerter only moved back to Utah from Idaho in 2021. Bell said in “consultation with legal counsel,” any applicant for lieutenant governor must be a resident for five consecutive years prior to an election, meaning Bangerter would have had to have moved back to Utah in 2019.

“While it appears that Mr. Bangerter has been a resident of Utah at various times of his life, media has reported, and Mr. Bangerter has acknowledged, that he moved to Utah from Idaho in 2021, and that he has not been a resident of Utah for ‘five years next preceding the [2024] election,’” said Bell.

Bell said his conclusion is supported by Utah Election Code, the State Constitution and documents from the Idaho Secretary of State’s Office showing Bangerter registered to vote in Idaho and voted in the 2020 election.

Lyman and Bangerter have since challenged the denial by filing a lawsuit against Lt. Gov. Henderson and Director of Election Ryan Cowley. In the lawsuit, the candidates claim Henderson’s Office “wrongfully interfered” with their campaign by denying Bangerter’s candidacy.

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Lyman has previously argued that Bangerter is eligible to be Utah’s lieutenant governor due to the Utah State Constitution’s “ambiguous language.” Bangerter has lived in Utah for over 30 years, which Lyman said more than meets the five-year requirement outlined in the State Constitution.

“The [lieutenant governor’s office] is aware of the legal requirements under Utah law for a person to qualify to declare his candidacy for the position of [lieutenant governor] and even provides in its own paperwork confirming the requirements,” the lawsuit reads. “The [lieutenant governor’s office] refused to accept Bangerter’s filing of candidacy on April 29, 2024, and thereby failed to follow Utah law.”

ABC4 has reached out to the lieutenant governor’s office who responded by saying they do not comment on open litigation.

Lyman and Bangerter are asking the courts to make a ruling on the lawsuit “as soon as possible” in order to help get Bangerter on the mailed-in ballots.

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