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SALT LAKE CITY — An agreement could be in the works in the heated lawsuit over a new law defining how Utahns choose candidates for political office.
A federal judge has told the state and the Utah Republican Party to meet next week for preliminary talks on mediation and a settlement. U.S. District Judge David Nuffer also told the opposing sides to meet again later in the month to discuss a framework for mediation.
Nuffer's instructions came Thursday after the Constitution Party of Utah filed a motion last week seeking settlement talks among the state, the Utah Republican Party and legislative leaders. The Constitution Party signed on to the Utah GOP's lawsuit after it was filed last year.
A citizens initiative two years ago called Count My Vote set out to change how political parties in Utah chooses candidates. But last year, initiative supporters dropped the statewide petition drive calling for a referendum on a direct primary election in exchange for getting an alternative path to the ballot.
Deemed a compromise bill, SB54 lets parties keep the state's unique caucus and convention system for choosing nominees, but also lets candidates collect signatures to get on the primary election ballot.
The Utah Republican Party says it was not part of the compromise and asked the court last December to strike down the law. Nuffer declined earlier this year to put the law on hold pending the outcome of the lawsuit.