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June 28, 2006
Cannon Wins The Primary

Rep. Chris Cannon beat his Republican primary opponent, John Jacobs, last night in what supposedly was a bellwether race on illegal immigration. Hardliners on border security had targeted Cannon in the primary despite his support for the House border-enforcement bill because he also supported a compromise with the US Senate. His twelve-point victory belies the earlier analysis that Jacobs had pulled even with Cannon:

The five-term incumbent defeated political newcomer John Jacob on Tuesday 56 percent to 44 percent — or 32,306 votes to 25,589 votes — with all precincts reporting but an unknown number of absentee ballots to be counted.

"This is a big margin of victory. It says a lot about Republicans getting together and solving this problem," he said. ...

Last December, Cannon voted for a House bill that would toughen border security, criminalize people who help illegal immigrants and make being in the U.S. without the required papers a felony. But he also supports Bush's proposal for a guest-worker program.

Cannon's willingness to compromise made him a target of Team America, a conservative group that calls illegal immigration the most critical problem facing the nation. It spent $40,000 on radio ads criticizing him.

Jacons conceded the race last night when the trends became obvious. Cannon now has a mandate from the Republicans in the area to pursue both border security and a compromise on normalization, assuming that he gets re-elected to Congress in the general election this fall. The Democrats will certainly take note of the split in Cannon's district and do their best to exploit it.

That puts the onus back on Team America and the Utah GOP to unite behind their candidate. They ran a tough primary, which is commendable, but in the end they lost. Will Utah Republicans have what it takes to be a majority party and elect Cannon back to Congress, or will they sit out the general election in a fit of pique over losing the primary on this narrow ground?

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at June 28, 2006 6:59 AM

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