SALT LAKE CITY — Though he announced last week that he’s no longer running to be Utah’s attorney general for medical reasons, Democrat Jon Harper is still officially on the ballot against incumbent Republican Sean Reyes, Utah Democrats said Wednesday.
Harper, a Salt Lake City attorney, has not offered details about his health since releasing a statement Sept. 21 saying he was dropping out of the race on the advice of his doctor.
State elections director Mark Thomas said that unless Harper notifies elections officials and withdraws from the race, any votes he receives in November will be counted.
Some ballots have already been printed and mailed to military and overseas voters, Thomas said. If Harper were to officially withdraw, elections officials could insert some kind of notice in the ballot for other voters.
Utah Democratic Party spokeswoman Yandary Zavala said Wednesday there are no plans for Harper to officially withdraw because if he wins, he could still serve if his health improves or the party could appoint another Democrat to the office.
“That gives us at least a shot should he win,” Zavala said.
Zavala said the party does not have details about Harper’s health issue and whether it could improve to a point where he could serve. She said Harper is no longer campaigning.
Harper did not return messages Wednesday seeking further details about his health issues and whether they may improve to a point where he could serve if elected.
Harper already faced a tough task to try to unseat Reyes, who has been in office since late 2013 and has broad backing in a state where most voters lean conservative.
Despite the challenge, Harper seemed committed in the days before he dropped out.
Two days before his announcement, Harper loaned his campaign $20,000, according to state elections records.
The announcement also came hours before he was scheduled to debate Reyes for the first time. Posts about the looming debate appeared on his campaign social media accounts in the days leading up to the debate.
Thomas, the elections director, said occasionally candidates in local races will announce they’re dropping out without actually filing a notice to withdraw. But he said he can’t recall that happening in a statewide race for something like the attorney general’s office.
“We hope he is feeling better and welcome him back into the race,” Reyes campaign consultant Alan Crooks said in a statement.