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Chaffetz continues to criticize his own party

Chaffetz continues to criticize his own party



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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- Jason Chaffetz isn't planning on making many Republican friends if he's elected to Congress, and that's the way the GOP nominee in Utah's 3rd Congressional District likes it.

"The establishment is broken," Chaffetz told The Salt Lake Tribune during a Washington fundraising trip. "My complaint about Republicans in general is that what they say and what they do is often two different things."

Chaffetz defeated U.S. Rep. Chris Cannon in a June primary after criticizing Cannon and other Republicans for not getting enough done and being fiscally irresponsible.

Chaffetz says he won't ask for or accept earmarks and wants to cut a slew of government programs. Those are positions that will put him at odds with other members of Utah's delegation, particularly Sen. Bob Bennett, a member of the appropriations committee and an advocate of earmarks.

That's OK with Chaffetz. "Bring it on," he said.

Chaffetz also criticizes Republicans for supporting the federal No Child Left Behind act, for failing to create a coherent energy policy and not doing enough to stop illegal immigration.

"I'm not going to come back here and placate leadership," he said. "That is not my job."

Chaffetz's Democratic opponent in November will be former television reporter Bennion Spencer, but in one of the most conservative districts in the country, Chaffetz is expected to easily win.

Quin Monson, a Brigham Young University political scientist, said while Chaffetz's attacks on Republicans may score him points with Utah voters, it probably won't help him in Washington.

"It will be a very different style than Chris Cannon, which I guess is the point," Monson said. "I think he was in some part nominated to make some trouble."

Monson said Chaffetz probably won't have a tough time getting media attention, but if he doesn't tone down his rhetoric getting good committee assignments or moving legislation will be difficult.

Chaffetz says that's fine with him. He said he wants to reform the Republican Party by joining a small group of vocal conservatives calling for a change. He said he wants to be the "wingman" for Rep. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., an outspoken critic of earmarks.

Mickey Edwards, an Oklahoma Republican who served 16 years in the House, said more people like Chaffetz are needed in Congress.

While he warns Chaffetz not to get too carried away attacking Republicans, he notes retribution can only go so far. "They can't take away your office. They don't have any bearing on where your parking place is. You have all the benefits of being in Congress whether they like you or don't like you," he said.

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Information from: The Salt Lake Tribune

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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