Salt Lake County Democratic leaders are unsure what to do about Michael Callister, but they're gathering the county central committee together Saturday in West Valley City to talk about it.
A week ago Callister, the party's nominee for county assessor, was arrested on a charge of drunken driving. Two days before that, Callister had defeated Kyle Kopitke for the nomination.Callister has been an elusive candidate, unknown to most Democratic leaders in the county, refusing to meet with the press before the primary and inaccessible since his arrest. Salt Lake County Democratic Chairman Earl Hardwick finally did reach Callister this week but Callister was noncommittal about getting out of the race against Republican Assessor Robert Yates.
Under Utah law, a nominee can't be removed from the ballot unless he gets a medical doctor's opinion saying that for physical or mental reasons he can't continue his campaign. Hardwick said he's asked Callister to get out of the race but didn't get a firm answer.
The central committee could officially vote to shun Callister and endorse another Democrat. But that Democrat would have to run a write-in campaign - Callister still would be on the ballot as the party's assessor candidate. Since no write-in candidate has won a county election in recent history, Hardwick said it would be tough talking someone into conducting such a race.
If Callister were to be removed from the ballot for medical reasons, then the central committee could replace him with a Democratic nominee. Kopitke would be a leading contender for that nomination but wouldn't be guaranteed the spot, Hardwick said.