John Jacob

PROVO — John Jacob made it clear Wednesday he plans to run for a Utah office again and said that next time he'll bring more money and seek establishment endorsements like the one President Bush gave his opponent.

But first he plans to raise cash for 3rd District Rep. Chris Cannon, R-Utah, the fellow Republican who beat him in Tuesday's primary.

Cannon will face Democrat Christian Burridge in the November general election, and Jacob wants to help replenish Cannon's war chest.

"I'm going to work on some fund-raising to make sure (Cannon) has the kind of money he needs to be able to get back to Washington," Jacob said. "I'm not sure he needs my help, but I know it cost a lot to get through the primary."

Jacob admitted being stung by the loss, especially the large margin, 56 percent to 44 percent.

"I thought I had a good chance of winning. A (12) percent difference wasn't a good chance. What I need is to get the president's support next time."

He declined to say whether he'd run against Cannon again, although he has told campaign staffers he won't. He could position himself to run in another district in two years. Utah is seeking a fourth seat in the U.S. House of Representatives, and Jacob naturally would be drawn to run for the new, open seat if it materializes.

The multimillionaire learned several tough lessons in his first state-wide race, including one about liquidity in a largely self-funded campaign. He memorably, and he said jokingly, blamed Satan during the final week of the race because delays in business deals made it impossible for him to free up cash he wanted to spend.

"I would have gotten more mailers out sooner," he said Wednesday. "I would have done more radio spots sooner. I would have done more television commercials and automated phone calls."

Meanwhile, Cannon had personal cash on hand to dump into the race after his lowest moment — the state Republican convention. That's when Jacob forced a primary by out scoring Cannon 52 percent to 48 in a ballot of party delegates.

"I obviously was a little surprised by the convention outcome," Cannon said. "We immediately started raising money, but it takes time for it to come in. After two weeks we decided we couldn't afford to be down, so I put ($120,000) in."

Cannon also deployed an aggressive, flexible phone message strategy, placing more than half-million automated phone calls with recordings from President Bush, Laura Bush and dozens of local leaders. The local leaders simply called a phone number, where their recorded message became part of a Web database.

The campaign targeted specific groups of voters with messages from people they were likely to know and respect. And on Tuesday, Cannon's campaign ordered more than 100,000 automated calls to unaffiliated voters when it became clear early in the day that unaffiliated voters were showing up at the polls in droves to register as Republicans and vote.

For Jacob, the low point in the race came when he learned President Bush was going to endorse Cannon. "How do you overcome that?" he said. "I'm not sure anyone could have won after that."

Jacob praised Bush for the move.

"For the president to support someone who was supporting him took a lot of courage because if Chris lost, what would that do to the president? I think it was pretty neat."

Jacob will review the campaign today with his staff.

"I need to be better connected with the establishment," he said. "I think that people are very important but not every one of them can get to know you. It would be nice to have endorsements (like Cannon did). That's important.

"And I'm going to have a lot more money in the bank when I start next time."

For now, though, he's supporting Cannon "100 percent," and sounded ready to join the campaign against Burridge.

"First of all, he's obviously a Democrat, and second of all, he's too young, he's 30 years old. And finally, he has less name recognition than I did. I don't see him as a serious threat right now."

Burridge is an attorney who has practiced immigration law and though he doesn't plan to use illegal immigration as a wedge issue, it will be part of the campaign.

"The great thing about America is that somebody who is 31 years old can run for U.S. Congress," Burridge said. "Jacob's contempt for my age shows his contempt for the people in our district. Utah is the youngest state in the nation, and Provo is the youngest city of 100,000 or more in the country. Why doesn't it make sense for them to have a young representative? Someone who has student loans, someone who has a mortgage, who has car loans, things my constituents have to deal with. That's why I'll make a better representative."

Clearly, Jacob wants to make good on his promise to follow the Ronald Reagan principle that Republicans help Republicans.

Asked if he would donate to Cannon's campaign, Jacob said, "I put my money where my mouth is."


E-mail: twalch@desnews.com