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(Photo: America's Freedom Festival at Provo)
PROVO, Utah (AP) -- A policy barring political challengers from entering the Freedom Festival's parade in Provo is drawing criticism.
Democrats say the policy that only allows incumbents to take part puts their party at a disadvantage because the GOP occupies all elected offices in Utah County.
"They either need to say that nobody who is a candidate will be in here or let all the people enter," said Democratic congressional candidate Karen Hyer. Her opponent, Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, will be in the parade.
There are some benefits incumbents have, and that is one of them.
–Paul R. Warner, executive director of America's Freedom Festival
Organizers of the annual Independence Day event said the rule's intent is to keep the parade from being a political forum. They note the rule also will apply to GOP U.S. Senate hopeful Mike Lee.
"I'm telling you as certainly as I can, it has nothing to do with Republicans or Democrats," said Paul R. Warner, executive director of America's Freedom Festival.
While officials are willing to review the policy after the festival, they said it will likely stand.
"There are some benefits incumbents have, and that is one of them," Warner said.
County Democratic Chairman Richard Davis said the rule wouldn't be so onerous if it were applied to incumbents as well.
This is not the first time the festival has been criticized for favoring the political right. Organizers drew criticism when conservative talk-show hosts Sean Hannity and Glenn Beck were named as hosts of Stadium of Fire in past years.
Information from: The Salt Lake Tribune
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