(Credit: Mythical blog)
At the beginning the year, I said Cannon will face a stiffer primary challenge in 2008 than in 2006, pointing to A) his chilly reception at the Utah state Legislature B) the amount of support that a cook like Jacob could get. Once Republicans saw how soft Cannon's support was, they decided to pounce. With his brother out of the chairman's seat, it just got that much easier to be congresman.
Five months later, the Salt Lake Tribune reports:
...just five months into his new term the opposition for his next race is already forming.
At least four other Republicans are considering running against Cannon.
They are former Juab County prosecutor David Leavitt, who is also former Gov. Mike Leavitt's brother; Jason Chaffetz, a former chief of staff to Gov. Jon Huntsman; John Jacob, who Cannon beat last year in the Republican primary and Merrill Cook, who came in third in that primary.
I don't know who among these guys is the least bad, but I think Jacob is probably the worst choice.
The failings of Mr. Cannon are so evident, obviously there is going to be a number of challengers," Chaffetz said. "All I can do is put my best foot forward and see if I'm the right messenger with the right message."
Each believes Cannon is vulnerable at the Republican convention with delegates who are more conservative than Republican primary voters.
Last year, Jacob actually beat Cannon at the GOP convention, 52 percent to 48 percent. The result forced a primary, which Cannon won, 56 percent to 44 percent.
Chaffetz decided Cannon must be replaced after observing him as Huntsman's liaison to Utah's congressional delegation.
"He has not instituted good conservative practices," Chaffetz said, pointing to fiscal discipline, limited government and ethics and personal responsibility.
Cannon defended his conservative credentials. He has the highest rating among Utah members of Congress from the American Conservative Union and the highest rating in Utah from Americans for Tax Reform.
The biggest issue in the 3rd District remains immigration. Challengers old and new paint Cannon as soft on illegal immigration and in favor of amnesty, a charge Cannon vigorously denies.
Leavitt returned to private practice after losing his 2002 re-election campaign for Juab County attorney by 22 votes. With his wife, he started the Leavitt Institute for International Development.
"Now that the Democrats have taken control of Congress, I believe we need a congressman that has a skill set that is able to work with a different political landscape than we've had the last 12 or 14 years," Leavitt said. "It's time for a re-evaluation of who we send to Congress."
Leavitt lost his job in Juab after successfully prosecuting infamous polygamist Jeff Green. It would be interesting to see how the polygamist vote goes in the primary.