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Ex-Huntsman staffer may battle Cannon
Republican Jason Chaffetz says the GOP wasted an opportunity when they had it
By Jennifer W. Sanchez
The Salt Lake Tribune
Published January 2, 2007 2:30 am
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2007, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
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Jason Chaffetz moved to Utah as an agnostic Democrat.

Now, more than 20 years later, the former chief of staff to Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr. wants to run as a Mormon Republican for Congress and hopes to kick out 10-year veteran Rep. Chris Cannon.

Chaffetz announced Monday in an informal news conference in Salt Lake City that he is considering running for the nomination in the 3rd Congressional District. It would be his first bid for political office.

The 39-year-old businessman said he is a "frustrated conservative" who is "hungry and excited" about winning over voters by going back to Republican values and principles.

Chaffetz said the Republicans, who lost control of Congress to the Democrats in November, "had a chance to make some major changes and they didn't do it."

"The country saw the Republicans acting in an unethical way, and the country made a change," he said. "It was the fault of how Republicans acted, and we'll pay the price."

Chaffetz said he and Cannon have very different views on immigration, nuclear waste and education. But he declined to go into any details on his policy ideas, saying he'll be talking about them along the campaign trail.

Chaffetz plans to file a "statement of organization" to the Federal Election Commission this week so he can start a fundraising campaign and start talking to fellow Republicans, who are to hold caucuses in March 2008 to discuss election nominations.

Joe Hunter, Cannon's chief of staff, said "it's a bit early to start a campaign."

"Right now, Congressman Cannon is focused on the session of Congress that is commencing this week, and upon protecting Utah's interests in a House of Representatives led by Nancy Pelosi," Hunter wrote in an e-mail. "When the time comes to have a campaign, we will have one."

Chaffetz acknowledged it is a bit early to start campaigning, but said he would rather "get out sooner than later." He added that his experience as Huntsman's campaign manager and later as chief of staff, as well as the contacts he made then, would help his congressional campaign.

"I was trained and mentored by the best in Gov. Huntsman," he said.

Mike Mower, who replaced Chaffetz as chief of staff, said Monday that it's too early for the governor to make "any formal endorsement."

Huntsman does plan to get involved when the Republicans pick a candidate, he said.

jsanchez@sltrib.com

Jason Chaffetz

* AGE: 39

* PARTY: Republican

* JOB: President of Maxtera Utah Inc., a marketing and corporate communications firm he started with his brother about seven years ago.

* FORMER JOBS: Chief of Staff to Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr.; campaign manager for Huntsman's gubernatorial campaign; for 11 years worked at Nu Skin Enterprises, a company that creates and distributes personal care products.

* BACKGROUND: Born in California; also lived in Arizona and Colorado. Moved to Utah for college and stayed.

* EDUCATION: BYU, bachelor's degree in communications, 1989. (He was a place kicker on the BYU football team from 1985 to 1989.)

* FAMILY: Julie, his wife of 15 years, and their kids - Max, 13; Ellis, 10; and Kate, 5.

Source: Interview with Chaffetz and news release.



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