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. rw in ct

    Too funny, hmm, I wonder which Repubs. are the ones that will cross over and vote for Obama the talking Janus = say this, say that.

    June 25, 2008 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  2. david

    Gustavo Murillo an illegal alien from Mexico was sent to prison for raping,torturing and sodomizing 3 boys and 2 girls under 10.,police think the victims were twice that many. He also gets free dialysis from the state of Oregon costing $300,000 a year.He told the court he was sorry but that he did not believe what he did rises to the level of criminal conduct.
    The stinking liberals and open border crowds don't think that there behaviour rises to the level of criminal conduct either. Yet they let in tens of millions of foreign nationals and criminals to rape,murder and destroy this great country. A stinking liberal,progressive or whatever is the lowest scum in the pond.

    June 25, 2008 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  3. An American

    McCain is toast!

    June 25, 2008 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  4. Dean

    I say get rid of the immigrants or have the cheap ... start paying their taxes in stead of sending the money to boost another countrie economy, it's a bunch of BS letting them get away with this.

    June 25, 2008 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  5. CB from PA

    He probably got his wives and cousins out to the polls.

    June 25, 2008 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
  6. independent chris

    Ask not for whom the bell tolls, GOP. It tolls for thee.

    June 25, 2008 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  7. Franky

    The Reps are idiots!! They're more confused than Britney Spears....

    June 25, 2008 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
  8. Typical White Person

    FactCheck – Labor camps? You write commercials for MoveOn.org, right?

    KParkes – "This country was essentially built on immigrant power..."

    This country was LITERALLY build on the rule of law. If you are advocating repealing all immigration law, then say so. Then think about the implications of total open borders and what THAT would do to our economy.

    When bringing up the "innocent" children of illegal immigrants, just remember that there are a whole lot of innocent children in Darfur whose parents don't have the option of slipping across the border into Texas to get away from REAL ethnic cleansing. Economic migration is not even on the same plane.

    The French, arguably the most liberal nation on the planet, does not automatically grant citizenship to everyone born on French soil. You have to prove legal residency to get it.

    June 25, 2008 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  9. Peggy - Tx

    I was surprised to find many hard-core long time conservative friends change their views towards the Republican Party. They feel let down by the current administration. For one individual it was the price of milk for his children. Only the evangelical and above 75 years olds that I know are still fired up to vote for a Republican. The rest will probably not vote or I suspect will secretly vote for Obama. I believe even Texas could turn Democratic this year.

    June 25, 2008 01:38 pm at 1:38 pm |
  10. Brad, IA

    That guy's hand is huge!

    June 25, 2008 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  11. Ambrose Smith, Borrego Springs, California

    My parents were illegal and I was born in Texas in 1981, but don't tell me that I am not an American.

    I served my country for 6 years, saved money for college and got a b.a. in U.S. History.

    Oh, and my parents are German.

    I have 2 boys and they are as American as apple pie.

    June 25, 2008 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  12. Didine - Maryland

    I am not surprised that less Republican people turn out to vote. If you have all your senses, there is no way you will vote this year for a republican. Thank God Barack Obama will be our next president. He is our divine destiny you like it or not.

    June 25, 2008 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  13. Brian from Fort Mill, S.C.

    The voters haven't forgotten that they are Republicans. I suppose that, after Bush, they wish they forgot.

    June 25, 2008 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  14. SB

    I don't usually like to comment here...but the comment by "Sen.McCain't Change" made me do something that I always stayed away from! ROFL @ "If McCain thinks Obama is Dr. No… then we might as well consider him Dr. Evil..or Bush's mini Me"

    Thank you so much "Sen.McCain't Change"...you just made my day!!!

    June 25, 2008 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  15. Anne E.

    I happen to live in this district; since I'm a registered Democrat, I didn't vote in yesterday's GOP primary. Mr. Mortensen is correct - SLC is more liberal than anyone might think. Occasionally, our voices are heard.
    The REAL abomination is that the LDS Church leadership is now asking its Calif. members to amend CA's constitution to ban same sex marriages. Since it seems church leaders are presuming now to try flexing their muscle and influence outside UT and dabble further in politics, perhaps they should start PAYING TAXES, too.
    I believe it was Christ who said, "Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's."
    I'd say someone's dropped the ball with that concept.....

    June 25, 2008 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  16. Crush Rush

    The laws are already on the books but no one wants to uphold the law.Republicans love slave type labor and Dems love illegal votes.

    June 25, 2008 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  17. A Democrat in UT 3rd district -- Yes they exist

    I live in Utah 3rd District and there is nary a mention of the Democratic candidate Bennion Spencer here. It just goes without saying whoever wins the Republican primary here is the de facto winner. Jason Chaffetz is even more right wing than Chris Cannon. Although I am happy he knocked out six-term Chris Cannon, with his seniority, etc., I am not happy the alternate is even more conservative. In a year where being right wing should be the kiss of political death, only in Utah and specifically the ultraconservative 3rd district would this not apply.

    One more thing. Jason Chaffetz lives in Alpine, UT, a couple of miles within Utah's 2nd Congressional District currently represented by Democrat Jim Matheson (a DINO nevertheless). Although this is legal, it is highly unusual. Why didn't he run against his own Congressman where he could have gained a seat for the Republicans?

    June 25, 2008 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  18. Andy J, NY

    Peter E-

    Right on, man.

    June 25, 2008 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  19. Makeshift

    This is the hidden face of the GOP. Vote against McSame and the other whack jobs that are tolerated within that party. Vote Obama.

    June 25, 2008 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  20. JoQ

    Maybe he be talking white too!

    June 25, 2008 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  21. Jim

    sarge in florida, what part of ENDING automatic citizenship for children of illegal immigrants DONT YOU UNDERSTAND, YOU IDIOT.

    June 25, 2008 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  22. Rj


    June 25, 2008 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  23. Ingrid San Antonio, TX

    Mike, from NY, keep on dreaming that "Americans" who are in welfare witll give up their cushy life style to go and do manual job.. would you?

    June 25, 2008 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  24. Andy J, NY

    @ Sarge in Florida-

    And the liberals adhere to the constitution so strictly?

    They are the idiots who nominate these activist judges who bend the Constitution from the bench, in order to fit their liberal socialist agenda.

    And it seems as though the liberals have forgotten that the right to keep and bear arms is THE SECOND amendment, right after freedom of speech. That should give you a clue as to how important that issue was to our FOUNDING FATHERS. Do you even know who they were, or what they were about? Maybe you should do some research and see how well your views match up with their views. You liberal hypocrite.

    Im not a republican, nor am i a democrat. I'm an American and i try to hold beliefs as close to the Founding Fathers as possible. How could you not, and still call yourself American?

    June 25, 2008 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  25. Cathy, DC

    Regarding Ralph Nader:

    I'm pretty disappointed. While I was not going to vote for Nader, I always thought he was a decent guy. His statement today will solidify his declining stature in history.

    Unfortunately there is a long list of politicians who insist on stuffing Barack into the "black politician's box". It shows their ignorance of black people–who are multi-faceted. No Ralph, Barack is not Jesse Jackson, or Colin Powel–he is Barack Obama. He’s a black man with a different personality, and a different vision for leadership.

    By the way, as an African-American, I speak English, not "White". Prepare for the fire storm Ralph, but maybe that's what you wanted anyway. It's cheap publicity, not positive, but cheap.

    June 25, 2008 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
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