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Utah Democrats plan to sue for a special election

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Posted at 9:45 PM, Nov 22, 2013
and last updated 2013-11-22 23:45:23-05

SALT LAKE CITY -- Utah will have a new Attorney General by next month. Gov. Gary Herbert said he has the power to hand pick John Swallow's successor, but the minority party in the state says not so fast.

Senator Jim Dabakis, D- District 2, is the chair of the State Democratic Party, and he said Democrats plan on suing. They want last year's election to be invalidated and think a state judge will ultimately side with them.

"We will be going to court," Dabakis said.

He is taking the fight to the top, a judge. He believes the Lt. Governor's report proves the election is invalid.

Dabakis said: I think it's quite clear from this report , which cost taxpayers $300,000, this independent report, that the Attorney General cheated and therefore the election was not valid, and so as we look for the new Attorney General, who should decide?"

Herbert said state law puts the power in his hands to decide the next Attorney General, but Democrats disagree.

"We're not so sure the Governor is right with his assumption of power that he has,” Dabakis said.

Dabakis said the people should have the power to elect the state's new AG.

"Certainly, morally, it ought to be a decision made by the people, given the repugnant state of the ethics that we're in now, but legally I think there's a very strong argument that that decision should be made by the people,” Dabakis said.

He's confident about the chances of a special election, saying, "We feel pretty comfortable that the judge will say it should be the people that make that decision, not the Governor because it wasn't a valid election."

The Republican Central Committee will meet in mid-December to vote on their top three choices for Utah's next Attorney General. Those names will then be given to Herbert, who then appoints the new AG. Senator John Valentine and former AG candidate Sean Reyes have already expressed interest in the state's top cop spot.