Gregory Jones said Friday he will not accept the Republican Party nomination in the race for Cambria County coroner even if opponent Frank Duca decides to withdraw from the fall election.
Duca, a Johnstown funeral home director, won the Republican nomination in the May 21 primary, despite announcing in April that he planned to withdraw.
Duca’s withdrawal came after the state deadline to remove his name from the primary ballot.
Unofficial results showed Duca earning 4,364 votes to defeat Jones, who received 3,952 votes.
In a statement issued last week, Duca said he planned to reconsider his decision to withdraw.
“In April, I verbally withdrew from the primary election for my own personal and family reasons,” Duca said. “I am very humbled by the support and response of the voters of Cambria County. I did not expect to win the nomination for Cambria County coroner, after withdrawing from the campaign. I need to address this overwhelming support and reconsider my decision.”
Duca has until Aug. 12 to decide whether he will accept the Republican nomination.
If he rejects the nomination, the Cambria County Republican Party will be tasked with appointing a nominee to run against incumbent Democrat Jeff Lees in November.
Jones, a Johnstown resident, veteran and restaurant owner, will not have the option to run as an independent candidate because party changes must be made prior to the primary. Jones said he will not pursue the office through a write-in campaign.
“That is virtually impossible,” he said.
Jones said he has decided to concede and will not accept the party’s nomination if Duca does withdraw.
“If this is what the people want, let them have it,” Jones told The Tribune-Democrat. “It’s over for me. I have more respect for the electorate than to play these games with them. It’s time for me to bow out and move on.”
Jackie Kulback, chairwoman of the Cambria County Republican Party, said the party did not support Duca in the primary and will not support him in the fall if he accepts the nomination.
“As far as we’re concerned, Duca walked away from the election,” she said.
“I still firmly believe Greg Jones is the most qualified candidate we could have fielded. I stand by that.”