After his democratic challenger withdrew at the last minute, Attorney General Sean Reyes had the debate stage all to himself Wednesday night.
An empty podium remained onstage at Dixie State University, where the debate took place. Early Wednesday morning, Democratic candidate Jon Harper announced he was withdrawing from the race, citing health concerns. The debate went on without him Wednesday night, and incumbent Attorney General Sean Reyes was able to take the full hour to answer questions.
The moderator asked Reyes how he would prioritize drug prosecution during another term as attorney general. He began his answer by pointing to criminal justice reform enacted last year.
“We have lowered some of the penalties for certain types of drugs,” Reyes said. “I think there’s a balance there—you don’t want to send a message that we’re not tough on crime.”
Reyes said he would like to expand diversion programs, which keep drug offenders out of jail but still issue some form of punishment.
Regarding the fight over control of public lands and a potential Bears Ears National Monument, Reyes said he’s hoping the compromise put forth by Utah lawmakers will pass in Congress. But he said legal action is still an option.
“We’re talking about hypotheticals right now,” Reyes said, but “if the president exercised power under the Antiquities Act to designate a monument, we would be ready to file a lawsuit on behalf of the state of Utah.”
When asked who he would be voting for for President, Reyes, who is a Republican, said he’d be supporting his party’s nominee.
“Donald Trump has committed to appoint justices to the Supreme Court that I’m comfortable with,” he said. “People who love the Constitution, who abide by the rule of law, who are careful jurists, and for that reason alone, I’m supporting Donald Trump.”
Reyes later backtracked and said he also agrees with Trump on issues like strong national defense, supporting law enforcement and fighting human trafficking.
The general election is Nov. 8.