Babka takes on immigration
2004 election: Rep. Chris Cannon's challenger says the issue is actually one of homeland security reform
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2004, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Utah Congressman Chris Cannon's views on immigration continue to haunt him in the 2004 election.

Already a force in the Republican primary, where immigration restrictionist Matt Throckmorton came closer than anyone ever has to defeating the four-term incumbent, immigration surfaced again Thursday during the taping of a debate at KUTV.

Only this time, it was Cannon's Democratic challenger Beau Babka stirring the pot, and with a new twist.

Babka, a South Salt Lake police captain, framed immigration reform as a homeland security issue, arguing that Cannon hasn't done enough to protect America's borders.

And he criticized Cannon for doing nothing to stop the overseas outsourcing of American jobs.

"We don't have good quality jobs here to sustain our work force," said Babka who positions himself as "a regular guy two paychecks from catastrophe."

Cannon readily admitted supporting outsourcing and conceded, "we have lost jobs." But he said they were "low-paying" jobs occupied by the "uneducated."

"People need to take charge of their lives . . . and get an education," said Cannon, noting that sacrificing entry-level work is a small price to pay to keep the economy afloat.

The exchange especially heated up when Babka touted himself as the candidate who will improve homeland security by increasing funding to hire more border patrol and U.S. Customs workers.

"What's the difference. Where do we differ on this issue?" interrupted Cannon, noting that last Saturday he voted for a homeland security budget that beefs up port security.

The bill passed both the House and Senate, but Babka says Democrat amendments for even more money were voted down by Republicans, including Cannon.

Time ran out before Cannon could counter Babka's claim, but after the taping he said he wasn't sure "what Beau was talking about."

3rd district issues

l Tax Cuts: Cannon will vote to make President Bush's tax cuts permanent because they help "people who create wealth."

Babka supports Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry's plan to repeal tax cuts for the rich and give middle-class Americans bigger breaks.

l War in Iraq: Babka criticized Republicans for failure to come up with a viable exit plan and said a vote for him is a vote for more troops.

Cannon also promised to boost military pay and supplies and said the country needs to stay the course under Bush.

l Health care: Noting that many Utahns have lost their health insurance, Babka said "we need to find a system that works" for small businesses and their employees.

Cannon said "we have a system," citing health savings accounts that allow Utahns "to take charge of their own health plans."

l Education: Cannon wants to dismantle the Department of Education and spread its funding among the nation's schools. He also is working to consolidate Utah's checkerboard school trust lands through exchanges aimed at getting the most out of land sales.

Babka says that the No Child Left Behind Act that Cannon supported needs retooling and promised to support more funding for schools and after school programs.