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Democratic Attorney General Candidate Withdraws—Debate Still Happening

Courtesy Utah Democratic Party

Ahead of a scheduled debate, the Democratic candidate for attorney general has withdrawn from the race, citing health issues.

Democrat Jon Harper was scheduled to debate Republican Attorney General Sean Reyes Wednesday night in St. George. Instead, the Utah Democratic Party released a statement early Wednesday morning that said Harper was following the advice of his physician and dropping out of the race. Democratic Party Chair Peter Corroon says the news came as a complete surprise.

“I’m not aware of the condition of his health, and I obviously don’t want to pry into that,” says Corroon. “But if he chooses to give us more information we’ll pass that on, but at this point we don’t know the exact details.”

Harper has not officially withdrawn his name through the Lieutenant Governor’s office, meaning his name may still appear on the ballot. If he does formally withdraw, votes for him will not be counted. It is too late for the Democratic Party to replace Harper on the ballot. The deadline was August 30.

Attorney General Sean Reyes issued a statement Wednesday wishing Harper a speedy recovery.

The Utah Debate Commission says the event scheduled for Wednesday evening will proceed without Harper. A moderator will ask Reyes the same questions as planned.

Reyes’ political consultant Alan Crooks encouraged voters to tune in to get to know the attorney general better.

“They should know their leaders and who’s serving them and providing leadership in their state,” Crooks says. “It’s part of the process, and it’s an important part of the process. So we look forward to continuing to work really hard to have the attorney general visiting with people, answering questions and being in front of people.”

The forum begins at 6 p.m. Wednesday and will be broadcast live on most local television stations.

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