Utah Congressman Chris Cannon lost to Republican primary challenger Jason Chaffetz last night. Chaffetz took about 60 percent to Cannon's 40 percent, a comfortable margin. Cannon has been targeted in the last three races by conservatives upset with his high-profile support of amnesty for illegal immigrants. He has been beaten at the Republican state convention before, but in the last two contests he fought back to win the primary. He was able to outspend Matt Throckmorton in 2004 and 2006 challenger John Jacobs was inexperienced and gaffe-prone, telling an interviewer right before the election that the devil was interfering with his campaign.
Cannon's defeat is a big win for immigration hawks. Conservative primary challengers who have run mainly or entirely as single-issue restrictionists tend to do about as well as Buddy Witherspoon did against Lindsey Graham last week: They get between 30 to 40 percent of the vote -- in a few cases, where the incumbent has galvanized national opposition, they can exceed 40 percent -- but rarely win if the incumbent is otherwise conservative. I expect those who exulted in the "Throckmorton thumping" will revise and extend their remarks about immigration politics. Well, no, I don't really.
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