Republican voters in Utah ousted Rep. Chris Cannon in Tuesday’s GOP primary, expressing their dissatisfaction with the six-term congressman over his left-of-center positions on immigration by nominating a challenger who made crackdowns on illegal immigration a central part of his platform.
Cannon was trounced by Jason Chaffetz, the former chief of staff to Gov. Jon Huntsman (R-Utah.) With 93 percent of precincts reporting, Cannon trails Chaffetz by 20 points – 60 to 40 percent. The AP has called the race for Chaffetz.
With his loss, Cannon becomes the third member of Congress to lose in their own party’s primary. Two members of Congress from Maryland, Democrat Al Wynn and Republican Wayne Gilchrest also were defeated in primaries held in February.
Chaffetz is near-guaranteed to become the next congressman for Utah’s Third District, which is one of the most Republican districts in the country. The seat, based in suburban Salt Lake City and Provo, gave President Bush 77 percent of the vote in 2004.
Immigration was the driving factor behind Cannon’s unpopularity with the district’s Republican base. Despite sporting a near-perfect score from the American Conservative Union, Cannon alienated border security hawks over the past several years with his belief that illegal immigrants should be eligible for certain government benefits.
In 2003, Cannon sponsored a bill that would give children of illegal immigrants in-state college tuition. And he has also supported legislation that would allow illegal immigrants to receive guest worker status.
A friend writes:
A few more notes
1. This is only the second time in 30 years that Utah Republicans have dumped an incumbent.
2. Cannon outspent Chaffetz massively. One source (http://deseretnews.com/article/content/mobile/1,5620,700237801,00.html?printView=true) gave $631,000 to $98,000 as the numbers. Anopther source (http://www.kutv.com/content/news/local/story.aspx?content_id=5fde6f86-b27f-4c58-945d-67c5e61e6dc9) gives $740,000 to $111,000. Yet another source states the numbers at $740,000 to $170,000.
3. Cannon served 6 terms before he was defeated. There were two prior attempts to remove him via the Republican primary. Both were driven by immigration.
4. Chaffetz specifically attacked birthright citizenship.
5. A few quotes from the various articles about Cannon's defeat.
"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. "
"The organization built by Chaffetz and Scott overcame a large gap in campaign cash that grew in the final days before the vote. Cannon's fundraising machine raked in $86,000 in large donations over the last dozen days, according the Federal Elections Commission Web site. Over the same time period, Chaffetz gathered just $6,300."