Jason Chaffetz scored a huge political victory today at the Utah State Republican Convention. Despite having been outspent 9 to 1 by Chris Cannon, Chaffetz handed Cannon a stunning upset and missed the nomination outright by only 6 votes. A candidate who wins 60% of the delegates does not have to face an opponent in a primary election. Cannon and Chaffetz are expected to face off in the primary election later this year.
David Leavitt was eliminated in the second round of voting, leaving Cannon and Chaffetz to battle it out for the nomination. After his defeat, Leavitt immediately encouraged his supporters to vote for Chris Cannon. Similar things occurred in the Presidential race between Romney, McCain, and Huckabee that left Utahns generally with a bitter taste, and it showed at the convention–delegates openly booed when Leavitt supporters appeared on the floor carrying Cannon campaign signs, and would not immeidately leave when instructed to do so. Things were only made worse when Leavitt and Cannon themselves appeared together on the delegate floor during the final round of voting.
Many delegates were heard to say that the stunt cost Leavitt his political career, and may have cost Cannon his congressional seat. It was certainly out of order. But it really stood Jason Chaffetz in good standing, able to capitalize on the Cannon/Leavitt gaffe.