I've got a few pictures to add later, but I have to say that this year's convention was a much bigger production than two years ago. You had the Huntsman/Herbert tent, then you had the Leavitt/Shurtleff suite and the Cannon suite. Cannon's was the best overall, with a Wii, the best spread of the morning, and a Pepsi machine. Nothing beats an open soda bar! At any rate, my wife and I arrived at the convention expecting a good matchup between Cannon and Leavitt in a nice and interesting primary. If anybody could have knocked Cannon out in a primary, it would be Leavitt - he's got the money and he's got the name. At any rate, we got there and were immediately given more trinkets than you'd get at CES. We had water, donuts, bagels, pens, fans, candy, and more. It was great. One thing I didn't see a lot of was the candidates. We swung past all of their booths and looked before parking ourselves in some prime real estate, the balcony of the Cannon suite. There was the typical Mike Ridgeway challenge this and annoy that going on, but let's move beyond the usual and get the the real meat of the situation, the 3rd District vote.Of the legitimate candidates (sorry Stone and Joe, you weren't among them), David Leavitt went first. Right up until the end I was going back and forth between Leavitt and Chris Cannon. I still consider them both top flight candidates, and I would absolutely have voted for him if the circumstances were a bit different. Unfortunately, his presentation left me a bit cold. The video was the best, but I don't think he had enough substance for the angry rabble. They were looking for someone who would take Chris Cannon by the neck and rip his jugular out with his bare teeth. That someone was Jason Chaffetz. He got up there and gave everyone in the crowd the best string of one liners that I've ever seen. "Leavitt spent 6 times more than me!" "I like Jon Huntsman, but global warming is a farce! [note: I (Sorro, not Chaffetz, although who knows if he does as well or not) think that global warming is happening, I just don't think that it's the fault of humans so much as Mother Nature]" "We don't need another attorney in Congress!" Beyond that, he managed to sneak in a nice little last second attack on Leavitt with his despicable spying/taking out of context of a quote from one of Leavitt's Pizza and Politics meetings. That's always a sign of someone who's running a nice, clean campaign - dirty tricks, rabble-rousing, and generalized douchebaggery. At any rate, after he gave the same speech, ending with the same idiotic, cynical, and focus-grouped to death "God bless you and God bless the United States of America," Cannon came out. He actually did a pretty good job. I really like Chris. He's a fantastic individual and at the end of the day, the candidate I supported. At any rate, he's not the most articulate of the candidates, which is one reason why it's surprising he's lasted this long as our Congressman. He's had serious challenges every single term and for him to continue to represent us despite some of those challengers having a very gilded tongue means that he must be doing something right.
After Cannon's speech, we voted. After the results came back, everybody in the room was a bit stunned. Chaffetz was first with around 40% of the vote, Cannon was second with a 30% or so, and Leavitt was last with 20%. That was a shocker. Even though Leavitt's last speech wasn't great or anything, I still thought he was the best challenger. My wife couldn't stop saying how bad she felt for Leavitt - she had seen him sweating it out before the results were announced. It was clear to everybody that it was over for Leavitt except for the formality of a second vote. I was saying to my wife that if I was Leavitt I would have immediately started swinging the vote to Cannon. A few minutes later, that was exactly what I heard was happening. We had our second vote and Chaffetz jumped over 50%, getting most of the votes from the two fringe candidates in the process. Leavitt was officially eliminated, and I said if I was Leavitt, I would have all of my Orange Shirts grab Cannon signs and show all of my supporters that I was swinging to Cannon. Then lo and behold, I saw something that made me cheer with delight. Leavitt's people did precisely what I said - they came into the hall all carrying Cannon signs. After a fair amount of booing from the Chaffetz people, they left when the party leadership booted them for campaigning on the Convention floor. Then Leavitt and Cannon strode out, shoulder to shoulder, and walked around, meeting people. Of course, there was more booing, as apparently 2 people can't walk around together anymore (yes, I realize it was an endorsement, but nevertheless, there wasn't anything wrong with it). We cast our third ballots and waited. While we were waiting, my wife and I talked with Leavitt about how much we appreciated the way he ran his campaign with integrity. He knew who I was - not as a delegate, but he knew this blog and that I ran it. Not that it's very difficult to figure out if you try, but I didn't expect that from him. At any rate, we went back up to the Cannon suite and waited it out, hashing over different scenarios and whinging about how awful things would be if Chaffetz was our Congressman - you know, all of that end of the world stuff that my crazy aunt mentioned and whatnot. I seriously would write in someone else if he somehow makes it out of the primary. Anyway, after waiting around for a while, we discovered the tally - Chaffetz missed a 60% majority by 6 votes. 6 votes. That is amazing. I can't imagine anything closer than that, and I can't be happier because it means that Cannon will be back. Chaffetz can't compete against him for name recognition, and his austere campaign can't pat itself on the back if they suddenly start spending money to get him elected - after all, it's not fiscally responsible to spend money on a campaign. It's better to not win and be proud that you were so much better than everyone else because you were cheap.
EDIT: Links to other reports from the floor:
Leadership that Delivers (official GOP liveblog)