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The defeat of amnesty enthusiast Chris Cannon by Jason Chaffetz in the Republican primary in Utah's 3rd District has been a blow to the pro-immigration right.
David Wasserman, the U.S. House editor for the nonpartisan Cook Political Report, dismissed labels calling this a bellwether race. He said there are unique circumstances with this race and that anti-incumbent, anti-Washington sentiment didn't spell Cannon's defeat.
"Cannon's performance in primaries has always been a good thermometer of just how heated the immigration issue is for the Republicans - just how hot it is for the Republican base," Wasserman said. "This year it was hotter than ever."
Rep. Tom Tancredo, a Colorado Republican who is arguably the staunchest anti-illegal immigration member, said it was clear the immigration issue helped knock Cannon out of office. While voting for immigration law enforcement and border fence protections, Cannon had backed more comprehensive approaches that critics had labeled amnesty.
"My first impression is that . . . any Republican who's running for office and believes the immigration issue is dead should take another look and see what happened to Mr. Cannon," Tancredo says. "For the Republican base, this race sends a very clear message that to them it still very much matters."
Cannon said that part of the problem Republicans face is that they have begun eating their own. [Sic][Incumbent fear: Cannon loss sets off wave of worry, By Thomas Burr and Robert Gehrke, The Salt Lake Tribune , June 26, 2008]
Now, various people are trying to spin this as not about immigration at all. The Salt Lake Tribune has a story by the same two reporters titled GOP faithful fire Rep. Cannon? | Immigration not the reason, BYU poll says, in effect, that exit polls show that there are a lot of other reasons to dislike a Bush Republican, (Chaffetz wants to repeal No Child Left Behind) and that even mildly pro-immigrant voters voted against Cannon.
This is just spin--expect it to show up in the Wall Street Journal shortly.
Question--in today's politally correct society, is it even safe for poll respondents to say that they voted against a politicians because he was in favor of letting in too many Mexicans? I don't think so. But in the privacy of voting booth, they can still vote amnesty enthusiasts out.