SALT LAKE CITY, Utah, Sept. 21, 2016 (Gephardt Daily) — Health concerns forced Democrat Jon Harper to drop out of the race for Utah attorney general on Wednesday.
In a prepared statement, Harper, 63, said his doctor recommended he get off the campaign trail, but he didn’t mention the specific medical condition that sidelined his run for office.
Harper is a former associate dean at the University of Utah law school. He said he hopes his campaign “has raised issues … that will have an impact on the incumbent Republican Attorney General Sean Reyes.”
One of those issues, according to Utah Democratic Party Chairman Peter Corroon, is “transparency” and what he sees as a “lack of it in the Reyes administration.”
“It’s the one position where having an independent voice could make a real difference,” said Corroon.
Harper had made the issue a cornerstone of his campaign, saying in his statement: “Reyes needs to recognize his responsibility to serve as the guardian of the public’s interest and not as the attorney for his party (Republican) and large donors.”
Corroon likened the current situation to a “fox guarding the hen house.”
“We really don’t have anybody being an independent watchdog for the state,” he added.
Reyes and Harper were set to square off in a televised debate Wednesday evening at Dixie State University in St. George. Late Wednesday morning, the debate sponsor tweeted out a statement saying Reyes would be given the full hour, starting at 6 p.m., to answer questions.
Harper’s name is still likely to appear on most ballots, and although Reyes will not officially have a Democratic opponent, he will have two third-party challengers: Libertarian Andrew McCullough and Michael Isbell, of the Independent American party.
Neither was invited to participate in Wednesday’s debate because they failed to receive the required 5.62 percent support in a poll conducted for the Utah Debate Commission.