Support Of Amnesty Costs Chris Cannon His Job

Congressman Chris Cannon is extremely conservative, was mentioned in some corners as a potential veep choice for John McCain, and he has even made an effort to reach out to bloggers — which is something 95% of his fellow Republicans in D.C. don’t bother to do.

Still, I’m absolutely thrilled that he lost a primary election yesterday to Jason Chaffetz for a simple reason: Cannon is pro-amnesty and in my book, there is no such thing as a good Republican legislator who’s pro-amnesty. Put another way, if Ronald Reagan rose from the grave and ran for Congress, I would back his primary opponent if Zombie Reagan were pro-amnesty.

Obviously, as you’ll see from reading this excerpt from the Washington Times, a lot of other conservatives feel the same way,

On Tuesday, Rep. Chris Cannon of Utah became the second incumbent Republican House member to lose a primary to a conservative challenger who made the incumbent’s soft stance on illegal immigration a major issue. Mr. Cannon, seeking his seventh House term in Utah’s 3rd Congressional District, lost by a 60 percent to 40 percent margin to Jason Chaffetz, former chief of staff to Gov. Jon Huntsman. Mr. Cannon lost despite outspending Mr. Chaffetz by more than six to one and receiving the endorsements of both of Utah’s Republican senators, Orrin Hatch and Bob Bennett, and of President Bush, who in 2004 won 77 percent of the vote in the 3rd District – one of the safest Republican congressional districts in the country. (Mr. Huntsman did not endorse either primary candidate.) Chris Cannon’s older brother Joseph serves as editor of the Deseret Morning News, one of the largest papers in Utah, and formerly headed the state Republican Party.

Mr. Cannon (American Conservative Union rating: 96 percent) was hardly a liberal. But he was significantly to the left of his Republican district on the issue of illegal immigration, and the issue was key to Mr. Cannon’s defeat. In 2003, for example, he sponsored legislation that would have allowed states provide in-state tuition to illegals. Americans for Better Immigration, an organization that opposes illegal immigration, gave Mr. Cannon an F- rating in part for his voting record in support of amnesty. In 2004, Mr. Cannon was held to slightly over 58 percent of the vote in winning the Republican primary and in 2006 he received less than 56 percent of the vote in the primary. This year, his luck finally ran out.

…Mr. Cannon thus joins nine-term Maryland Rep. Wayne Gilchrest as the second Republican to lose his House seat in a primary this year. Like Mr. Cannon, Mr. Gilchrest came under attack for a series of pro-amnesty votes and was hit hard for voting time and again for porkbarrel spending. The political demise of Wayne Gilchrest and Chris Cannon should serve to remind Republicans that voting for open borders, higher taxes and increased spending can become a fast track to early, involuntary retirement.

Note that Cannon has an outstanding 96% ACU rating, outspent Chaffetz 6-to-1, and was endorsed by both of Utah’s senators along with George Bush — and yet, he lost, not in a squeaker, but by 20 points.

Make no mistake about it: amnesty was not the only issue that cost Cannon his job, but it was the driving force behind his loss. Put another way, if Chris Cannon had been opposed to amnesty, it’s doubtful that he would have faced a primary at all and if he had, he could have skipped campaigning and still won by 50 points in the district he’s in.

There’s a lesson there for the other Republicans in Congress — one that they should have already learned when angry conservatives put in so many calls during the fight over the Bush/Kennedy amnesty bill — being pro-amnesty is as big a deal as being pro-abortion or pro gun-control. It’s an issue that can kill your political career as dead as a doornail and Chris Cannon, at long last, found that out.

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