SALT LAKE CITY — Jim Bennett, executive director of the newly formed political party United Utah, announced Friday he is running for the 3rd District seat in Congress being vacated by Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah.
Bennett, the son of late Sen. Bob Bennett, R-Utah, said he hopes his candidacy will help promote the new party as it awaits official recognition from the state after submitting 2,000 voter signatures Thursday.
Bennett said he will run as an unaffiliated candidate if the state is not able to complete the signature verification process by the 5 p.m. Friday filing deadline for candidates seeking to fill the remainder of Chaffetz's two-year term.
While Republicans and Democrats are "beating each other up" to win the August primary election, Bennett said he will be able to focus on the concerns of voters in the 3rd District.
The new party was unveiled earlier this week by Bennett and former Utah County Democratic Party Chairman Richard Davis, a BYU professor. Bennett said the party is already being welcomed by Utahns who "don't feel they have a political home."
Also filing Friday was Damian Kidd, a Republican American Fork attorney who announced in January he intended to run against Chaffetz in 2018, along with Republicans Jeremy Friedbaum, Shayne Row, Keith Kuder and Libertarian Joe Buchman.
By midafternoon Friday, 17 candidates — 13 Republicans, three Democrats and one Libertarian — had filed with the state to run in the special election called after Chaffetz announced he was stepping down June 30 for a position in the private sector widely believed to be with Fox News.
Provo Mayor John Curtis officially joined the race Thursday, as did Democrat Kathie Allen, a Cottonwood Heights doctor who had announced her candidacy months ago and has raised more than $500,000 on Crowdpac.com.
Republicans Stewart Peay, of Alpine, a lawyer; Brigham Cottam, of Salt Lake City, a National Geographic field producer; and Paul Fife, of Provo, also filed Thursday.
The Republican candidates who previously filed are Alpine resident Tanner Ainge; Sen. Margaret Dayton, R-Orem; Rep. Brad Daw, R-Orem; Sen. Deidre Henderson, R-Spanish Fork; and former state legislator Chris Herrod.
The other Democrats who have filed are Cottonwood Heights mental health worker Ben Frank and Monticello biologist Carl Ingwell.