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Wimmer announces candidacy for U.S. Congress

Published: Monday, July 11 2011 10:52 p.m. MDT

Rep. Carl Wimmer speaks about his bill to repeal the resident college tuition break for illegal immigrants at the State Capitol in Salt Lake City on Friday, Feb. 18, 2011.

Kristin Murphy, Deseret News

HERRIMAN — State Rep. Carl Wimmer signaled his intent to run for the United States House of Representatives Monday, filing an official congressional committee with the federal elections commission.

Wimmer will pursue Utah's as-yet-unformed fourth congressional seat and chose to spread the news quietly in a series of private interviews with media outlets. He appeared relaxed and confident on Monday, wearing a pinstripe suit with two pins on his lapels: one, yellow with the words "Don't Tread on Me" and the other, an American Flag.

"It actually happened a little sooner than we had anticipated, however, I've had an exploratory committee that has been very active since January," the Herriman Republican said.

Wimmer said his "low key" announcement is a result of the unique circumstances of the upcoming election and that a more celebratory event will take place in the future.

"You'll see more of a pomp and circumstance and loud official announcement coming after the boundaries are drawn," he said.

A redisitricting committee has been holding public meetings throughout the state and the Legislature will vote on newly drawing political districts before the end of the year based on the 2010 Census.

Wimmer currently lives in Utah's 3rd Congressional District, which is represented by two-term Republican Jason Chaffetz. He said that he has taken a "hands off" approach to the progress of the redistricting committee but anticipates that he will be eligible to campaign for the 4th District.

"I anticipated that we'll be very close or within the boundaries of the 4th District and that's where at this point my intention is to run," he said.

Wimmer said that in the event he finds himself sharing a district with Chaffetz, he would not challenge the incumbent congressman.

"Congressman Chaffetz knows that I would not run against him," Wimmer said.

On the other hand, Chaffetz has made public remarks that suggest he is considering a challenge to Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, which would leave an open seat in Utah's 3rd District. Wimmer would not say what his actions would be if that were to happen and he found himself residing in the 3rd District.

"We'll cross that bridge when we get to it," Wimmer said.

Wimmer said he expects a crowded Repubican field during the next election, especially with the possibility of three empty GOP seats, but so far he did not see heavy interest in a new fourth district. He added that it was unlikely that another conservative would challenge him in the fourth, but regardless of the competitive field he would run an aggressive campaign.

With the districts still undetermined, it is only speculation as to whether Wimmer's campaign area would include rural/urban mix or a "doughnut hole" of like-interested communities. In either case, Wimmer was confident he would be able to represent the interests of his constituents and welcomed the idea of working with rural Utah.

"I have a very close relationship with rural Utah," he said. "I would not mind representing a piece of rural Utah at all."

Wimmer said his campaign would focus on two issues: fixing a broken Washington, D.C., and returning power to the states.

"Washington is running us bankrupt so it is high time that we sent someone back who is a fiscal conservative and who is willing to not only say the right things but do the right things," Wimmer said.

Wimmer spoke briefly on his past accomplishments in the Utah State House of Representatives. He introduced legislation that made child killers elibigle for the death penalty and a bill to let Utah opt out of the recent federal health care reform or Obamacare. Wimmer is also co-founder of the Patrick Henry Caucus.

E-mail: benwood@desnews.com

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