Utah Rep. Cannon ousted in Republican primary
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20080625/ap_ ... ah_primary
By BROCK VERGAKIS, Associated Press Writer Wed Jun 25, 2:00 AM ET
SALT LAKE CITY - U.S. Rep. Chris Cannon, one of the nation's most conservative congressmen, lost his bid for a seventh term Tuesday in a Republican primary that focused on whether he was conservative enough for Utah's 3rd District.
Cannon was defeated by first-time candidate Jason Chaffetz, a former Brigham Young University football player who served as chief of staff for popular Republican Gov. Jon Huntsman.
The lobbying group American Conservative Union said Cannon was nearly perfect on its issues in 2007, scoring 96 percent. But Chaffetz repeatedly pounded the incumbent, especially on immigration, and pledged to be even more conservative.
With 93 percent of precincts reporting, Chaffetz led 60 percent to 40 percent. Voter turnout was described as low.
"I think we have a mandate to help return the Republican Party to its core conservative principles," he told The Associated Press after Cannon conceded defeat. "People were fed up and we empowered them to become involved and make the changes we need."
Cannon, 57, had no immediate public comment on the election result.
Meanwhile, in Utah's only statewide race, Richard Ellis defeated Mark Walker for the Republican nomination for treasurer. The race was mired by accusations of bribery. Walker repeatedly denied offering Ellis a raise to stay as deputy treasurer and drop out, but the allegation may have stuck with voters.
With 92 percent of precincts reporting, Ellis had nearly 60 percent of the vote.
In the congressional race, Chaffetz, 41, claimed Cannon was soft on immigration, saying his votes amounted to offering amnesty to people in the country illegally.
In 2003, Cannon sponsored a bill that would have allowed states to charge in-state tuition for children of illegal immigrants.
Rather than deporting all illegal immigrants, Cannon has called for a guest-worker program that doesn't punish businesses and allows immigrants to travel freely across the border.
Chaffetz said he wants the U.S. to deport all illegal immigrants and stop granting automatic citizenship to children born here if their parents aren't legal residents.
He also attracted support in the largely suburban district by saying he wants to abolish the U.S. Education Department and cut a slew of federal programs unless they can prove they're working.
Chaffetz will face Democratic candidate Spencer Bennion, a former television reporter, in the general election. In one of the nation's most conservative districts, the ex-BYU kicker is expected to easily cruise to victory.
Chaffetz said his campaign will be no different this fall and his tough words will remain the same if voters send him to Washington.
"I'm going to tell it like it is. We're in a crisis right now. The budget is out of control, immigration wasn't taken care of, and gas is at $4 a gallon," Chaffetz said. "We need new solutions."
Cannon had hoped his name recognition, a large amount of campaign cash and a pool of more moderate voters would propel him again to the Republican nomination. An endorsement from President Bush, who still remains popular here, was also expected to help, as it did in 2006.
But this year, the political climate was different.
In 2006, Cannon "had a president that was much more popular that came to his aid," said Quin Monson, a BYU political science professor. "You had a Republican Party riding high, controlling Congress and so on, and you had an economy doing better.
"He had all these factors working against him this time," Monson said.
In the treasurer's race, Ellis filed a complaint with the state elections office. Lt. Gov. Gary Herbert, also a Republican, waited until polls closed Tuesday to announce that an investigation into bribery allegations is warranted.
The Utah Attorney General's Office will handle any probe. Herbert said he waited until after the primary election because he didn't want to influence the outcome of the GOP race.