Utah Democrats drop bid to replace a state Senate candidate

Utah Democrats have abandoned their effort to replace a candidate in a state Senate district, meaning there will be no Democrat on the ballot in SD9.

Democratic officials suddenly withdrew their bid to place Monica Zoltanski on the ballot Thursday morning. Salt Lake County Democratic Party Chair Quang Dang refused to comment on the situation.

Salt Lake County Democrats were making a last-minute push to replace Abbey Wright on the ballot. Wright withdrew from the race in May shortly winning the nomination. State law allows for the replacement of a candidate in the case of a medical problem that prevents them from running or they die. 

Wright initially said she dropped out because of a medical problem with a family member, but later claimed she was suffering from a “debilitating mental condition” as well. Wright submitted a letter from a physician’s assistant saying she was unable to continue campaigning but was told state law required a letter from a doctor.

Earlier this week, Wright obtained a second letter from a physician’s assistant saying she was unable to continue her candidacy, but this letter also carried a doctor’s signature.

Utah GOP officials challenged the candidate switch with the state elections office claiming, among other reasons, that Wright’s reasons for dropping out did not meet the legal standards to justify her replacement.

A source close to the process tells UtahPolicy.com that Republicans threatened legal action if Wright was replaced on the ballot with Zoltanski, and made it clear that everyone involved would have to swear under oath to the veracity of their claims. That source says Wright and others decided against pushing forward.

That means there will be just two candidates on the ballot to replace retiring Senate President Wayne Niederhauser, R-Sandy, in November, Republican Kirk Cullimore and United Utah Party candidate Alexander Castagno.