Over the past little bit I have been able to meet with both David Leavitt and Chris Cannon, two of the three candidates for Utah's Third Congressional District seat. I will say that I came away from Leavitt's meeting far more impressed than I was going in. I looked at him as another in a long line of protest candidates (among whom are Matt Throckmorton, ever-present political opportunist Merrill Cook, and John Jacobs) who ultimately had one difference between them and Cannon - they were against illegal immigrants, in the sense that they wanted to kick out 12 million people as soon as possible, do not pass go, do not collect $200. Other than that, they agreed with everything Cannon did. Leavitt has a bit of a different tact: he has what I consider a middle of the road position - send them back to Mexico to pick up a guest worker permit at the border. They then can shoot back up to their current jobs. While I am not a big fan of this, I certainly can live with the position. He also believes that Cannon hasn't been influential enough in Congress and that he will work to be more influential. He bases this off of Congressional Power Rankings as designed by a group that ranks them for lobbyists. (See the rankings here.) In it, Rep. Cannon is 318. That's not anything different for Utah - Rob Bishop is 354, and on the Senate side Orrin Hatch is 39 and Robert Bennett is 76. That makes me wonder about the rankings somewhat because Hatch has a lot of seniority and for a time he was the top man on the Senate Judiciary Committee. Meanwhile Bennett is in with Sen. Mitch McConnell (#7 and Minority Leader) and has had a lot of influence in the past. I know that they're including earmarks in the rankings, which can penalize people who actually know how to spend taxpayer money responsibly.
With that in mind, I don't know how accurate those rankings are, but I think that his idea is right - he wants to be more influential and he has a slight immigration disagreement. The one thing he definitely did is get me to take a closer look at him. My meeting with Chris Cannon went the same as usual. I really like him as a person and a candidate. The key thing that Leavitt did when he met with me is get me to give him a consideration. Therefore, I've not yet made up my mind. I'll have to listen to the candidates more and research them more before I decide. The other candidate, Jason Chaffetz, is still an unknown. I'll give him a shot, but he seems more like an opportunist based on his past (and let's face it, anybody from Jon Huntsman's inner circle is likely as big of an opportunist as the Governor is) in both his state capacity and in his shying away from "controversial" positions. Hating illegal immigration isn't controversial - supporting it is. From what I've seen of his so far, he falls on the kick them out immediately side of the debate, and he's going to have to work hard to overcome that in my opinion.