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For Weary Moderates, United Utah Party Offers Third Option

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The formation of a new Utah political party was announced Monday at the state Capitol. The party's site states United Utah is for "independents who have not felt either party represents their more moderate, less extreme views." 

A Pew study last year found that 91 percent of Republicans have an unfavorable opinion of the opposite party; meanwhile, 86 percent of Democrats view Republicans unfavorably. The study also noted a growing number of independents in the U.S.

Jim Bennett, executive director of the United Utah party, hopes the new party will quell the partisan divide.

"You look at both parties and both of them have gravitated so much to the extreme that the vast majority of Utahns don't feel comfortable in either one, but neither party feels any need to change and they're only catering to the extreme wings of their base," he said.

Third parties in the state, such as the Independent American Party or the Utah Constitution Party, have performed poorly in recent elections, with party candidates receiving .2 and .7 percent of the vote in the 2016 presidential election, respectively.

Bennett said that's due to the extreme nature of third parties.

"Third parties tend to reach further and further into the fringes, and that’s why I think they don’t last very long," he said. "This is a unique effort in that we're really trying to grab all of those people in the middle who I believe represent a majority in the state who may have become disengaged or disillusioned because they don't believe there's any party who represents who they are."

The party plans to register with the Lt. Governor's office by Friday once it's gathered the 2,000 signature requirement.