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« Bruno To Retire | Blog Home Page | Enviro Groups Own CO »

Cannon Primary Saga Continues

Voters in Utah head to the polls today to select congressional nominees, an election that has at least one incumbent worried he may become the third to lose his own party's nod this year. It's not the first time Republican Chris Cannon has faced a tough primary challenge, and this year he faces a new opponent who is stronger than his 2006 opponent. Cannon's constituents, a new poll shows, have yet to really make up their minds.

The poll, conducted by Dan Jones & Associates for the Deseret News, surveyed 312 registered voters on 6/19 for a margin of error of +/- 5.5%. Cannon and his challenger, Jason Chaffetz, were tested.

General Election Matchup
Cannon.......44 (+5 from last, 5/19)
Chaffetz......40 (+3)

Chaffetz, the former chief of staff to Governor Jon Huntsman, has shown promise as a candidate with organizing skills. At the party's May convention, Chaffetz won 59% of the vote, coming just a single point shy of denying Cannon a spot on the ballot. Only ten votes would have gotten him over the top.

Cannon faced similarly tough challenges in 2004 and 2006, though it was he who came just shy of winning the convention outright both years. Facing State Rep. Matt Throckmorton, he won 58%-42%, and in 2006 against developer John Jacob, Cannon took a 56%-44% victory.

Both losing candidates, and Chaffetz this year, have attacked Cannon's position on immigration, which they cast as pro-amnesty. Chaffetz won backing from an anti-illegal immigration PAC founded by Rep. Tom Tancredo, Roll Call's John McArdle reports today, and he, like others before him, has been trying to cast Cannon as too liberal for the district (Chaffetz's slogan, "Right for Utah," is an easy double entendre).

The primary winner today is virtually assured of a seat in Congress in Utah's Third District. Touching the southeastern shores of the Great Salt Lake, the district wanders south through Provo and west to the Nevada border. The last two Democratic presidential nominees have failed to win even a quarter of the vote in the district, and though Cannon won the general election with just 58% in 2006, Democrats are unlikely to make even a token effort here.