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Downballot Derby: Utah Rep. Loses GOP Primary

Republican Rep. Chris Cannon lost his bid for a seventh term on Tuesday when he was defeated by 20 points in the GOP primary in Utah's 3rd district on Tuesday by newcomer Jason Chaffetz, a former BYU football player who served as chief of staff for Republican Gov. Jon Huntsman.

Cannon has been a staunch conservative in Congress with a 96 percent rating from the American Conservative Union, but Chaffetz was able to outflank him on the right in the central Utah district, where President Bush won with 77 percent of the vote in 2004.

Chaffetz claimed Cannon was soft on illegal immigration, pointing to his support of guest-worker programs and allowing states to charge in-state tuition for children of illegal immigrations. Chaffetz instead called for deporting all illegal immigrants and not giving citizenship to the children of non-legal residents. He also said he wanted to eliminate the U.S. Department of Education.

"I think we have a mandate to help return the Republican Party to its core conservative principles," he said in an interview with The Associated Press. "People were fed up and we empowered them to become involved and make the changes we need."

Chaffetz is expected to cruise to victory over in November over Democratic opponent Spencer Bennion.

Cannon is the third incumbent congressman to lose in a primary this year -- joining Republican Wayne T. Gilchrest and Democrat Albert R. Wynn, both in Maryland.

Oregon Senate: Republican Sen. Gordon Smith, who is in a tough reelection battle with Democrat Jeff Merkley, touts bipartisanship in his latest ad -- with an unusual twist. The ad promotes the work he did with presumptive Democratic nominee Barack Obama on raising fuel efficiency standards in 2006.

The ad begins with an announcer saying: "Who says Gordon Smith helped lead the fight for better gas mileage and a cleaner environment?" After a pause, the answer is "Barack Obama" and there is a picture of Obama's Web site and letterhead. (See the ad here)

Obama's campaign quickly distanced themselves from the ad. "Oregonians should know that Barack Obama supports Jeff Merkley for Senate. Merkley will help Obama bring about the fundamental change we need in Washington," said campaign spokesman Bill Burton.

A spokesman for Merkley denounced the ad. "What Barack Obama did say was that Gordon Smith has rarely broken from George Bush and the Republican agenda that has done this country great damage," aide Matt Canter told The Oregonian.

But Smith's campaign defended the ad. "The point of the ad is that Senator Smith has a long record of bipartisanship," spokeswoman Lindsay Gilbride told the paper.

New York 13th District: New York Republicans have been forced once again to look for a new candidate to replace Rep. Vito Fossella, who decided not to run for reelection after he admitted fathering a child outside of wedlock. Their first chosen candidate, Frank Powers, died of natural causes at his home in Staten Island over the weekend.

Republicans had hoped the 67-year-old retired Wall Street executive would have been able to finance part of the campaign and hold onto the only House seat in the city in GOP hands.

While they have yet to indicate who they will turn to next, party leaders must act fast because the filing deadline is in about two weeks.

"I think it would be inappropriate for me to discuss what this means, politically," John S. Friscia, the chairman of the Republican Party on Staten Island, told The New York Times. "It's a terrible loss for the Powers family and for the Republican Party committee."

Whoever is chosen, he or she will face a battle from Democrats who have been targeting the seat this year. Staten Island City Councilman Michael McMahon and Brooklyn lawyer Steve Harrison, who lost to Fossella in 2006, are both seeking the Democratic nomination.

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