Former Utah Rep. Chris Cannon dies at age 73

Former U.S. Rep. Chris Cannon leaves KSL Broadcast House in Salt Lake City on Feb. 6, 2018. Cannon died Wednesday at age 73.

Former U.S. Rep. Chris Cannon leaves KSL Broadcast House in Salt Lake City on Feb. 6, 2018. Cannon died Wednesday at age 73. (Spenser Heaps, Deseret News)

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SALT LAKE CITY — Former Utah Rep. Chris Cannon died Wednesday at age 73.

Cannon represented the state's 3rd Congressional District from 1997 to 2009, when he was unseated by Jason Chaffetz.

Cannon served on the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Commercial and Administrative Law and was one of the House impeachment managers tasked with prosecuting the impeachment case against President Bill Clinton in the U.S. Senate. He served as chairman of the Commercial and Administrative Law Subcommittee for several years beginning in 2003, then served as the subcommittee's ranking member when the House swapped to Democratic control in 2007.

News of Cannon's death prompted an outpouring of support from politicians in Utah for his wife and children. His brother confirmed the death to the Deseret News.

"I'm stunned and saddened by breaking news of the death of my friend, former Congressman Chris Cannon," Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, said in a social media post. "I will miss his insights, encouragement, and friendship. Sharon and I mourn with his wife, Claudia, along with the couple's children and extended family, all of whom are in our prayers as we who knew him try to come to terms with this heartbreaking news."

Gov. Spencer Cox said he and his wife Abby were "saddened" to hear of Cannon's passing.

"Congressman Cannon worked hard for the people of Utah, and was a dedicated public servant working on criminal justice, drug policy, regulatory reform and other issues during his time in the House of Representatives," he posted. "Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and loved ones during this difficult time."

"I am saddened to learn of Chris' passing," Rep. John Curtis — who currently represents the 3rd District — told through a spokesman. "He was one of a kind. A visionary with big ideas coupled with personality and thoughtful humor. He served the residents of Utah's 3rd Congressional District well."

Chaffetz said in a post: "Today I heard Congressman Chris Cannon passed away. God bless. I hope we all can thank him for his valiant, patriotic work fighting for the USA. May blessings be with his family."

Utah Lt. Gov. Deidre Henderson expressed "heartfelt condolences" to Cannon's family and loved ones, calling the late lawmaker a "great leader and dedicated representative who served his community with passion and integrity."

A Utah native, Cannon earned his law degree from Brigham Young University's J. Reuben Clark Law School. He is the great-grandson of George Q. Cannon, an early member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and a territorial delegate to Congress.

Cannon's brother, Joseph Cannon, was chairman of the Utah Republican Party and later the editor of the Deseret News.

Prior to his election to Congress in 1996, Cannon worked as an associate solicitor for the U.S. Department of the Interior and served as finance chairman of the Utah Republican Party. Cannon made his way to Washington by beating incumbent Rep. Bill Orton, a Democrat.

As a lawmaker, Cannon said he was inspired by former Republican senator and presidential candidate Barry Goldwater of Arizona.

"There's no questioning the fact that Barry Goldwater was as profound an influence on me politically as anybody. ... He becomes sort of this point in time where we shifted away from where we'd gone with Roosevelt and the socialization of America, and he was one of the first people to say, 'You know, this is the wrong direction,'" he told the Deseret News in 2006.

Cannon's efforts to prevent a new telecommunications monopoly are among his proudest achievements through his first decade in Congress, he said in the same interview.

"I hope new forms of competition continue to emerge, so that we, over time, continue to significantly decrease our telecommunications costs and our data costs," he said.

After leaving office, Cannon in 2010 backed a Utah citizens' ballot initiative proposing ethics reforms in state government.

Cannon sponsored or cosponsored over 1,100 bills during his time in Congress, 74 of which were signed into law, according to the congressional records.


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Bridger Beal-Cvetko covers Utah politics, Salt Lake County communities and breaking news for He is a graduate of Utah Valley University.


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