June 25th, 2008
11:03 AM ET
15 years ago

Republican congressman loses primary challenge

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/06/25/art.chaff.gi.jpg caption="Jason Chaffetz defeated Republican Rep. Chris Cannon Tuesday night ."]
(CNN) - Utah Rep. Chris Cannon, consistently ranked among Congress' most conservative Republicans, was defeated Tuesday by a primary challenger who repeatedly argued Cannon was not conservative enough.

Jason Chaffetz, a first-time candidate and former chief of staff to Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman, defeated Cannon by 20 percentage points, 60 percent to 40 percent, with nearly all the precincts reporting.

Chaffetz pledged to be more conservative on illegal immigration policies. Cannon has said he supports a program where undocumented immigrants, who lack a criminal record, could pay a fine to obtain a temporary workers permit. Chaffetz instead advocates a plan to begin gradually deporting all illegal immigrants from the United States. He also supports ending automatic citizenship for children born to illegal immigrants living in the United States.

"We have a mandate to change the way business is done in Washington," Chaffetz told CNN. "We are thrilled. I was outspent by $600,000, I have no paid staff, and no name identification. I said we need to get back to conservative principles and it obviously resonated."

Chaffetz is now essentially guaranteed to win in November. The district, which includes a some of Salt Lake City's suburbs, is overwhelmingly Republican. President Bush won 77 percent of the vote in 2004.

Voter turnout for the primary was extremely low, an ominous sign for the party, Chaffetz said.

"This ought to be a wakeup call the establishment that things are not well. We need to remind people why they are Republicans because they have forgotten, and are not inspired by anybody. "

Cannon is the third member of Congress this year to lose to in a primary this year. In February, Maryland Democratic Rep. Al Wynn and Maryland GOP Rep. Wayne Gilchrest were both defeated in February.

Filed under: Congress
soundoff (161 Responses)
  1. diziz31

    and what's his stand on under age marriages in Utah? Not newsworthy. This item helps Hannity in his resolve to announce that the Republican Party finally won something.

    June 25, 2008 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
  2. Proofread

    "In February, Maryland Democratic Rep. Al Wynn and Maryland GOP Rep. Wayne Gilchrest were both defeated in February."

    C'mon CNN...

    June 25, 2008 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
  3. Jay, NM

    Hi CNN, you didn't like my comment and the reality, right. You've so thick skin.

    June 25, 2008 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
  4. Terry in El Paso, TX

    Conservatives, who controlled Washington from 1994 (Newt Gingrich's "Contract with America") until 2006 (when many Republicans in Congress lost their seats or went to jail), are now campaigning that Washington is not "true to Conservative values" whatever those may be. They certainly gave no evidence of those values for the twelve long, disastrous years. Remember, for some of those years, Conservative Republicans controlled the presidency, the Supreme Court, and both Houses of Congress.

    What are the glorious achievements of Conservatism during that time? Scandals, open thievery, the sale of the nation to China, and so on? What did they do to prevent our oil problems? Our immigration problem? Our national debt problem? Our health care crisis? Our school crisis? Our crime problem? Our crappy low-paying jobs with no benefits crisis? Veterans' benefits? What did they do about flag burning, prayer in the schools, abortion? Not one single thing. Zip. Nada.

    What about terrorism? Well, they did manage to invade the wrong country, break our superb mililtary, and run up the debt, all while accusing those who questioned the war of treason (you Conservatives don't remember that now, do you? Do you still have your yellow ribbon stickers on your bumpers and your flags hanging from the front porch?)

    June 25, 2008 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
  5. Don Colony14Author, Mt Prospect, IL

    I think it is time to spit America into two separate nations. The liberals get half and the conservatives get half. Let them go their own separate ways and enact their own policies and legislation. In 20 years, one group will be desperately poor, watching their welfare checks bounce, out of fresh water, starving with short suplies of organic foods, overbloated with lawyers and unproductive public employees, and still waiting for someone to invent a perpetual motion machine to recharge their idled electric cars.

    The other group will be prosperous, well-fed, hard-working, and content.

    As for me, I'll go with the second group, the conservatives.

    Of course, if you give Texas to the libertarians, I'll go there and see them eclipse even the conservatives' progress!

    June 25, 2008 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  6. Mike

    To Enlightened Voter (12:17 pm)

    Those of us will vote Republican versus voting for Obama!

    A vote for Obama is a vote for Osama!!

    Go McCain!!!!

    June 25, 2008 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  7. Lincoln

    "He also supports ending automatic citizenship for children born to illegal immigrants living in the United States."

    Now that's a slippery slope. How can anyone be that hateful towards anyone?

    June 25, 2008 01:10 pm at 1:10 pm |
  8. Michelle, PA

    One point in this article brings up a serious question. Currently, a child born on U.S. soil is automatically eligible for U.S. citizenship under the Constitution, regardless of the parents' status. We do not, at this time, punish the childred for the sins of the parents. Would Chaffetz' immigration proposal mean a Constitutional amendment to redefine citizenship? If so, what would be the broader ramifications? Do the Republicans care? They should.

    June 25, 2008 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
  9. Rob indetroit

    I am a dem who like's banning citizenship for children born to illegal alien's oops! i mean immigrants living in the USA . so i support mr.chaffertz

    June 25, 2008 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
  10. An Independent

    It looks like the people in that part of Utah haven't figured out what a disaster the conservatives have been in recent years. Fortunately, I think enough of the rest of the country recognizes it that we should be able to get a better government starting in January.

    We're all so lucky that the founders of this country saw the wisdom of doing things in new and better ways rather than clinging to the old ways. If they'd been like the conservatives of today, we'd all still be British colonists!

    June 25, 2008 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
  11. Stretch85

    This is who the Utah want to represent them in Congress? At a time when California opens its doors and allows more people to experience the American Dream, Utah wants to close its doors to those with darker skin.

    June 25, 2008 01:13 pm at 1:13 pm |
  12. ProundToBeDemocrat

    If Mccain thinks Obama is Dr. No then Mccain would be Mr. Who, or Mr. Old or Mr. McBush.

    June 25, 2008 01:14 pm at 1:14 pm |
  13. Praetorian, Fort Myers

    Great news for the Libertarians when Republicans are being defeated because they aren't conservative opens up the possibility there are lot of disgruntled GOP who see GWB as not really conservative considering the humongous debt and historical increases in government spending.

    Thanks George.
    Barr/Root 2008

    Got Liberty?

    June 25, 2008 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  14. lou burg

    Over 80% of Americans think the country is on the wrong track so why would you vote for the parties responsible for getting us there?
    The founding fathers said the only thing that could bring down America is the two party system.
    Don't waste your vote on these losers. Vote independent.

    June 25, 2008 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
  15. John-Paul Parikh

    Mr. Chaffetz should read the Constitution.

    Section 1 of the Fourteenth Amendment:
    "All persons BORN (emphasis mine) or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws."

    A vote for Chaffetz is a vote for someone who does not believe in the Constitution.

    June 25, 2008 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
  16. ProundToBeDemocrat

    Oh no Another Lou Dobbs in the house. I am sure we are going to see this Guy on Lou Dobbs million times now. This Shows reuplicans are for white people only, because this county is land of Immigrants all this white conservatives if they study their history they are son or daugther of immigrants. Republicans need to stop being one race party.

    June 25, 2008 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  17. William, from Cali!

    This is good for the Republican Party, it says........ "if you don't stand, to protect America; you are out"........................DemocRATS, are you listening.............................Your turn, is next!..........................................

    June 25, 2008 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
  18. ANGIE


    June 25, 2008 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
  19. Rob indetroit

    It's not racist to want your border's respected

    June 25, 2008 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
  20. Jeff - Illinois

    That guy has an enormous hand!!

    I'm an American, so I rarely vote Republican, but I might vote for a Representative who wants to gradually deport all illegal immigrants and to not grant citizenship to children born to parents of illegal immigrants.

    Revamp the laws to make it easier if we want, but in reasonable numbers, and through proper procedures (i.e. TB testing, for example), but we need to undo what has been done over the past several years, even if it means lower profits for corporations who don't currently employ American citizens.

    June 25, 2008 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  21. pannie

    the bee hive yourself state controlled by the mormon chruch who think sex is the way to get into heaven......where is george carlin when we need him ?????????????????????

    June 25, 2008 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  22. Obama Supporter

    This anti-immigrant sentiment is getting ridiculous. Unless you are 100% native American, WE ARE ALL IMMIGRANTS!!!

    The idea that we would suddenly say that the only American children are children born here with legal parents would be a disgusting reversal of policy that has been with us since the U.S. was founded.

    June 25, 2008 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
  23. Ugo

    WoW! Where is the fiscal responsibility on the part of the GOP? You mean to tell me that spending all that money to pin these illegal immigrants down and then deporting them will solve our problems? hmm...Dude, Mitt Rumney tried that crap and he failed. Here's a LITTLE problem with your candidacy, Mr. Chaffetz, these illegal immigrants can find their way back to this country. So just how many times will you deport someone before they'll stop coming in and at what cost?

    June 25, 2008 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  24. Jim

    Don't paint all Utah citizens with a broad brush. When you stereo type, you become a bigot. Utah is a great place to live, and we are not all "repugs". I am an Obama supporter, as are many of my friends. And...I'm a Mormon! The Church's official stand on politics is neutral. My stand is not. In Utah County, there are almost as many registered Independents as Republicans. As reasonable people begin to study the issues, rather than blindly voting as their parents did, a shift to moderation begins to happen. It's happening in Utah. Go Obama!

    June 25, 2008 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  25. Typical White Person

    Jesse, Burnsville, MN wrote

    "Seriously, the citizens of Utah are just plain scary. It's like they live in a permanent bubble and have absolutely no idea what has gone on in this world over the past, oh, 400 years."

    Yeah, they are really missing out on drug use, violence crime, M13, gay marriage...

    June 25, 2008 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
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