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Farmington • Chris Stewart launched his bid for Congress Tuesday inside the log cabin from where former U.S. Rep. Jim Hansen kicked off 11 winning campaigns of his own along his way to a 22-year career.
"I think this log cabin is about to launch number 12," Stewart said to cheers among the almost 100 people squeezed into the house and flowing out the front door.
Hansen joined former Utah Gov. Norman Bangerter in introducing the former U.S. Air Force pilot, who is seeking the Republican nomination for the 2nd Congressional District.
The 51-year-old Stewart, who is president and CEO of the Shipley Group a consulting and training company, also got a pre-taped video introduction from conservative icon, Glenn Beck.
Stewart said he has known Beck for about a year and said the former Fox News talk-show host called him "out of the blue" to tell him he enjoyed his books. Stewart has written a variety of fiction and nonfiction books, including one co-authored by his brother, U.S. District Judge Ted Stewart.
"He's the guy I'd pull the lever for," Beck said to the rapt audience.
The launch of his campaign puts him amid a crowded field of GOP hopefuls. Already in the race are former House Speaker Dave Clark, conservative activist Cherilyn Eagar and another former U.S. Air Force pilot, Chuck Williams. Howard Wallack, former trucking company executive, and John Willoughby, son of former Salt Lake City Police chief Bud Willoughby, also have declared their intent to run for the Republican nomination.
With the new boundaries drawn with redistricting, current U.S. Rep. Jim Matheson, D-Utah, has not decided where he's going to run. Matheson currently holds the seat in the 2nd Congressional District.
Stewart said he was running to help rein in federal deficit spending and to stop federal bailout programs like the Troubled Asset Relief Program commonly referred to as TARP. He said the nation was at "a tipping point" and that if deficits weren't brought under control, the country could collapse in about 10 years.
"I don't think we have that long," he said.
The kick-off event also drew Morgan Philpot, who ran against Matheson in 2010 and lost by 5 percentage points and is now challenging Gov. Gary Herbert for his seat, and Ron Mortensen, co-founder of the Utah Coalition on Illegal Immigration.
Mortensen, who lives in Bountiful, said he was just there to listen and hadn't decided who he would support yet.