This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2006, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
SOUTH JORDAN - Democratic congressional candidate Christian Burridge is campaigning door to door in the western Salt Lake County region, reaching out to the voters he calls the "X-Factor."
Out of about a dozen doors he knocks on in the Daybreak development that lies in the shadow of the Oquirrh Mountains, three people, without being asked, have identified themselves as Democrats. Burridge, who once lived in Price, bonds with Anthony Peterson, a Price transplant.
"A lot of good Democrats down in Price," Burridge says, handing Peterson a campaign flier.
"I'm one of them," responds Peterson, distracted momentarily by the cookie-smeared toddler clinging to his leg. "And you've got my vote."
Burridge, who is joined by his wife, Marissa, and their two pre-school daughters on the evening campaign walk, figures more than 25,000 people have resettled on the west bench of the 3rd Congressional District. They're mostly young, hard-working couples starting families. Burridge, 31, argues they want someone in Washington, D.C., who understands them - not a "millionaire congressman" who neglects the public's business to take care of his own.
"This is a political X-factor out here," Burridge says of the newly populated parts of the district. "No one knows what party they vote."
The 3rd District as a whole, stretching from western Salt Lake County through Utah County into south-central Utah, Burridge says, holds the seeds of a swing away from the Republican stranglehold.
"Even with the rural counties, it's the youngest district in the United States, with the most kids. It makes sense to have a young guy like me representing it."
Republicans call it wishful thinking, but Burridge could be onto something. In the last five years West Jordan, South Jordan, Draper, Herriman and Riverton have been among Utah's top 10 cities in growth, gaining 41,000 people. Although they are considered Republican strongholds, the influx of young voters gives Democrats hope of change.
"If there's a place where the Democratic Party is being rejuvenated, it is in the 3rd Congressional District," says Utah pollster Dan Jones.
While Jones hasn't specifically polled on the subject, "I can say residents of the newly developing areas are tending to vote Democratic."
GOP incumbent Chris Cannon doesn't apologize for his five terms on the Hill and argues it's to his young constituents' advantage. Two-thirds of Utah is controlled by the federal government, he says, and consolidation of the state's scattered school trust lands is an avenue to increase school spending. But effective consolidation of the state's lands into marketable parcels takes savvy on land issues, not to mention seniority.
"I have had great success in consolidating our school trust lands. It is important that I return to Congress to continue that process."
His time in Congress makes Cannon effective on measures as wide ranging as anti-pornography to winning Utah a fourth congressional seat.
As a Republican incumbent, Cannon is heavily favored to win. Still, it has been an unsettling campaign season.
In the primary, Utah County businessman John Jacob gave Cannon a scare when he attacked Cannon as soft on immigration and surpassed the incumbent in convention votes. Cannon supports guest worker programs and troops on the border, but opposes hard-line deportation schemes.
Cannon won the primary thanks, in part, to Jacob's embarrassing gaffs, including his complaint that Satan was sabotaging his campaign.
Now, Cannon supports the construction of a wall on the Mexican border, something President Bush has belatedly embraced. "The president has finally gotten the point. That will give us some real security on the Mexican border."
But he still says the American economy needs immigrant labor to continue growing. "We ought not beat business up. I want business to grow, " Cannon says of laws that would severely punish employers for hiring undocumented workers. He calls for high tech tools to allow employers to check the identities of potential hires.
Now, as Republican candidates nationwide find themselves hard pressed to defend the Bush Iraq strategy and the House's handling of the Foley page scandal, Burridge has intensified pressure on Cannon.
For his part, the incumbent made some thoughtless statements that gave Burridge ammunition that Cannon has been inside the beltway too long.
Cannon said in interviews that House pages are "precocious" and "worldly" and may have led on disgraced Rep. Mark Foley as a prank. He supports House Speaker Dennis Hastert's refusal to resign over the issue.
Democratic Party spokesman Jeff Bell said Cannon's attitude is the equivalent of blaming a rape victim "because she had it coming to her."
"That statement showed he is out of touch with the people of Utah and he is willing to say anything to protect his politics and defend Hastert at the expense of our values," Burridge says.
But Cannon says the page scandal is "totally a creation of the media."
"It was entirely a function of a sensationalistic reaction to the comments I made," Cannon says. "What I said was very straightforward. If some one makes a big deal out of it - they are mischaracterizing what I said."
Burridge, who has made ethics reform a campaign centerpiece, questioned Cannon allowing his brother Joe Cannon to lobby him on behalf of clients. Cannon says Joe's clients get no special treatment.
Burridge has angered Cannon with his statements that the congressman "let gambling interests run the 3rd District's office."
David Safavian, who has been convicted of lying to investigators about his relationship with disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff, served as Cannon's chief of staff in 2001. Abramoff has been convicted of fraud and conspiracy in connection with peddling influence to gambling interests. Cannon says he hired Safavian to take advantage of his expertise in telecommunications and on-line revenue issues.
Instead of distancing himself from the influence-peddling scandal, Cannon last week wrote a letter supporting Safavian to his sentencing judge. "Here's a guy who did something wrong. Every indication is he's going to go to jail," Cannon says. "I wrote that letter very, very carefully. Did I write anything to excuse anything he did? No."
But Burridge says the letter shows Cannon has become oblivious to his district's values.
"It shows just where is allegiances lie - with the lobbyists in Washington and not the constituents of the Third District," Burridge says.
Pollster Jones says he finds Utahns still support the president on Iraq and terrorism, but are dissatisfied with Congress - particularly as far as the page scandal goes. But he doubts that or the Safavian involvement will unseat Cannon.
"It depends on how much the media covers it - is it a 24-hour story?" Jones says. "My guess is that Cannon will get the lowest percentage of the senatorial and congressional candidates. But that's not saying he will lose. People just don't know who Christian Burridge is."
Although Burridge's chances of unseating Cannon remain slim, he appears the prototype of the kind of candidate Utah Democrats must field if they hope to gain ground in the GOP-dominated state.
Burridge is a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and graduated from church-owned Brigham Young University. He is a successful lawyer, handling bankruptcies and taking on credit bureaus on behalf of clients.
"I've been raised to be social conservative - traditional on marriage and the unborn. Progressive on social rights," Burridge says. "Jim Matheson [Utah's only Democratic Congressman] has shown you can be a moderate Democrat and do pretty well here." He believes a lot of 3rd Congressional District voters, Republican and Democrat, are in the same camp.
"I've talked to a lot of people who left the party during the Reagan years when the Democratic Party got too radical," he says. "Now, I see a trend going the other way. The GOP has been taken over by neo-cons and they've abandoned a lot of the core moral values of the Republican Party."
* AGE: 31
* JOB: Consumer lawyer
* EDUCATION: Attended Snow College, graduated from University of Pacific on debate scholarships, Brigham Young University Law School
* FAMILY: Wife Marissa and two daughters
* INTERESTING FACT: He taught English in Japan before law school.
* ETHICS REFORM: An independent commission to investigate congressional ethics misconduct and a two- to five-year blackout period slow "revolving door" between Congress and lobbying firms.
* IMMIGRATION: Strict enforcement of illegal hiring practices and Internet access to verify the employee identity.
* SMALL BUSINESS: Tax cuts for the middle class and tax incentives and affordable health care for small businesses.
* IRAQ WAR: Start listening to the military professionals. Administration has not provided adequate troop levels or an exit plan. Partitioning Iraq between ethnic and religious factions could be key to withdraw.
* AGE: 56
* JOB: U.S. congressman, founder/owner of Cannon Industries, a venture capital company
* EDUCATION: Graduate of Brigham Young University and law school
* FAMILY: Wife Claudia and eight children
* EDUCATION: Reduced federal involvement in education.
* IMMIGRATION: Admits Congress, so far, has done little on the issue. Supports a guest worker program to help continue America's economic growth with controls on who enters the United States.
* IRAQ WAR: Following through on our commitment to Iraq is in the best long-term interest of the United States. He opposes partitioning Iraq but says it may be inevitable.