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Pragmatic Republican candidate joins Utah's 4th Congressional District race

Published December 9, 2011 8:56 pm

Politics • Attorney Jay Cobb rejects sound-bite solutions for a more thoughtful approach.
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Jay Cobb, an attorney and former U.S. Senate staffer from South Jordan, has joined the race for Utah's 4th Congressional District seat, touting himself as a pragmatic Republican who can get results in Washington.

"Everyone knows our country has these huge difficulties with debt and deficit and by and large everyone knows what we have to do, but I get frustrated with the gridlock," he said. "I surveyed the field and wasn't significantly impressed with the ability of the other candidates to get things done."

Cobb joins a conservative field that currently includes state Reps. Carl Wimmer, R-Herriman, and Stephen Sandstrom, R-Orem, and Saratoga Springs Mayor Mia Love.

Cobb said the strident partisanship and black-and-white approach to issues has created gridlock that is not productive. He said he hopes to strike a more moderate, reasonable tone than the rest of the field.

"I think really I have a different approach than some of the other candidates," Cobb said in an interview Friday. "I take a long view and realize we have to work with people. We don't have to agree, but we have to work together."

Cobb, 39, said his platform focuses on four goals: fostering private-sector job creation, reducing deficit spending, paying down the debt and moving more responsibilities back to the states.

He said he will achieve those goals in a pragmatic way — cutting government program by program instead of trying to slash and burn. He said he supports a flat tax but it may not be feasible politically, and he believes the tax code needs to be overhauled.

Cobb said he won't sign pledges, like those promising not to raise taxes, because changing sections of the tax code to "broaden the base" could mean some people end up paying more, violating the pledge.

"Sound bites, I get them, but they don't capture the complexity and thoughtfulness that we need to get there," he said.

He acknowledges he is relatively unknown in the 4th District field, but he said if Republican delegates meet him and hear his pitch, he thinks he can succeed.

Cobb did his undergraduate work at Brigham Young University, majoring in economics, and earned a law degree from George Washington University.

He worked for a law firm in Washington before joining Sen. Bob Bennett's staff as his legislative counsel in 2002. In that role, he said he had to dig deep into bills and it drove home the complexity of issues.

He left Bennett's office and went back to practice law before returning to Utah, where he earned his MBA from BYU. He later served as in-house counsel for Broadweave and later Schiff Nutrition, a vitamin and supplement maker.

Cobb and his wife have four children between the ages of 18 months and 9 years. He said in his free time he shuttles kids to soccer practices and enjoys hiking with his family.


Twitter: @RobertGehrke






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