Salt Lake County Democrats voted Saturday to replace Michael D. Callister in the race for county assessor with the man he defeated in the primary after Callister officially withdrew from the race Friday evening.
The 80 to 100 Democrats who attended a noontime central committee meeting Saturday named Kyle K. Kopitke the Democratic candidate "by acclaim," said county party chairman Earl Hardwick.The party had sought Callister's withdrawal since learning of his Sept. 13 arrest on drunken-driving charges.
Early that morning, a deputy sheriff pulled Callister over after noticing faulty taillights on his car. According to the deputy's report, Callister failed a field sobriety test and a breathalyzer test showed a blood alcohol level of .30, nearly four times the legal driving limit of .08.
Only Callister could remove himself from the ballot, however, and in order to do so the candidate had to have a doctor certify him mentally or physically unfit for office.
Friday, Callister submitted to county clerk H. Dixon Hindley a letter saying that Callister is "physically and mentally disabled," which was signed by Dr. Lawrence W. Astle, a Murray physician. Callister also submitted a letter of withdrawal.
Callister, who earned the nickname "the stealth candidate" during his successful Democratic primary campaign for the assessor's seat, eluded party attempts to contact him immediately after his arrest.
He recently got in touch with party officials, Hardwick said, adding, "The guy is out trying to get help. He did the right thing for himself and for us. We're very supportive of both Kyle and Mike."
Kopitke, who spent $17,000 on his unsuccessful primary bid, said he would try to raise more money to fund the final 46 days of his campaign, "but we don't have any illusions about a lot of money coming in."