Mark Byrge
Mark Byrge

It is probably safe to suggest that Mark Byrge’s long-shot candidacy for Utah’s House District 56 just suffered a relatively significant set-back:

A Utah legislative candidate was charged with assault and kidnapping this week after police said he forced a man into his home at gunpoint and pistol-whipped him over a prescription drug debt.

Defendant Mark Byrge, 43, ran uncontested in the Democratic primary last month and is slated to run in November against Republican state Rep. Kay Christofferson in House District 56.

Byrge was arrested Monday on charges of aggravated assault, kidnapping and obstructing justice.

In court records, police said Byrge attacked Dayton Wright, who was treated at a hospital for large cuts on his face and the back of his head.

Byrge is being held in Utah County Jail on a $100,000 bond.

Police allege in the court documents that Byrge and Wright had been exchanging threatening text messages over money.

Byrge later told police the dispute was over an outstanding loan to Wright, but authorities said text messages indicate Byrge was demanding payment for prescription pain drugs he had given to Wright’s girlfriend.

Byrge asked Wright to come by his apartment on June 1. The men argued and Byrge hit Wright in the face with a walking cane, police said.

The fight continued on the porch and front yard before Byrge pulled a gun and forced Wright inside at gunpoint, authorities said. Byrge pistol-whipped Wright and repeatedly threatened to kill him, court documents state.

The Utah Democrat party is not backing Byrge’s campaign, and would probably prefer that he renounce his party affiliation.

Byrge will remain eligible to run in the race as long has he is not convicted of a felony.

Byrge already has a string of misdemeanor convictions and no context pleas dating back to 1991.

Republican state Rep. Kay Christofferson won House District 56 in 2012 with 88% of the vote.

Tags: CrimeUtah