SALT LAKE CITY — Jay Cobb looked over the candidates in Utah's new 4th Congressional District and decided to become one himself.
He said he jumped in because he's not convinced the others have what it takes to solve problems in Washington.
"I'm the type of person who can work with people who have differing opinions and views and not be polarizing," he said. "My temperament and demeanor is a little less bombastic or a little less abrasive."
But, he acknowledged, "nobody knows that about me."
In fact, nobody knows him at all. A Deseret News/KSL-TV poll of 4th District voters last month showed 80 percent had never heard of him. Cobb has not made a formal campaign announcement.
By way of introduction, Cobb is a 40-year-old Republican who grew up just outside Philadelphia. He earned a degree in economics from BYU and a law degree from George Washington University. He later returned to BYU for an MBA.
Cobb, a married father of four, has practiced law in Salt Lake City and Washington, D.C. He spent nearly two years as legislative counsel for Sen. Bob Bennett, where he said he learned how to negotiate and work on language in bills.
"I'm coming to this race more from the policy side of things than from the political side of things," he said.
He lists private sector job creation, defining the proper role of government and reducing the national debt as top priorities.
"We have challenges we need to solve and they can be solved. We just need to get it done," Cobb said. "To me, it's contingent on getting the right people back there."
He said he agrees with tea party aims to lower taxes and cut spending. "But I'm not going to be the one who's demonizing the other side for political points as a way to get there. I think you've got to work with people."
Cobb said one thing he has going for him is time. He took a leave from his job as in-house counsel for Schiff Nutrition and spent December meeting people. He intends to start fundraising more this month and said he believes he can reach the GOP state convention in the spring fairly inexpensively.
"It's going to be tough," he said. "I know I'm the underdog."
The 4th District is stocked with high-profile politicians on both sides of the aisle.
Republicans in the race are state Rep. Stephen Sandstrom, former state legislator Carl Wimmer and Saratoga Springs Mayor Mia Love. Democratic Congressman Jim Matheson decided to run in the 4th District rather than his current 2nd District after Utah lawmakers redrew congressional boundaries last fall.