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Chris Cannon

WASHINGTON — Imagine being fired but still required to work at that same job for another six months anyway. How would you manage to trudge through it?

That is the situation Rep. Chris Cannon, R-Utah, has been in since voters rejected him in the June 24 Republican primary. He will still serve until next January.

"It's not that bad. In a way, it's sort of like being set free," he said.

He says it allows him to focus on just a few priorities that he wants to pass before he leaves. He says he is free from partisan and almost all political pressure. And he is looking forward to entrepreneurial work that he hopes to re-enter after Congress.

Something else that eases any pain is: "We really only have about 20 days of legislative work left" — so he actually will not need to hang around Congress much.

That's because of the August recess (used by most House members to campaign) and an expected early recess before the election to allow more campaign work. Cannon doubts Congress will return after the election, opting instead to work with the new president after January instead of President Bush this year.

Cannon said one of his top priorities is a bill that he hopes to pass in honor of his oldest daughter, Rachel, who died at age 25 four years ago from cancer.

"It would offer a $10 million prize to those who find a cure for each of three similar types of cancer" to help spur greater research into them, he said. That would include the type of cancer that killed his daughter, clear cell sarcoma of the tendons and aponeuroses (connective tissue).

Cannon says he thinks it has a fair shot of passage, even though it has not been written yet and not much legislative time is left. "I have friends here who know how big of a priority this is, and they are willing to help me."

His other big priority is easing the process of obtaining permits for development of oil shale. He has less hope that it will pass, but

he says it is important to pursue. He says partisan gamesmanship has been blocking most energy legislation, and he said he will not miss that.

Cannon said since Republicans have been in the minority, "We are working at the margins rather than controlling the core issues ... I would miss Congress more if Republicans could regain the majority and control those core issues. But I expect Democrats will retain control after the election. So I won't miss that (situation)."

Cannon said he is already looking forward to his next job, which is essentially what he did before he came to Congress. He wants to revive his Cannon Industries to invest in new technologies and form companies to put new inventions on the market.

"I have almost been accosted by a number of inventors with ideas that they want to capitalize," he said. "I've told them I can't really focus on them until after Jan. 3" when he leaves office. But he said he has many ideas about entrepreneurial work he wants to pursue and which he also expects to be more lucrative than Congress.

"I also expect to remain active in politics," he said.

Cannon said his political activity will likely focus on working with groups about the need to vote. He still smarts, and talks at length, about the low voter turnout in the primary that he lost.

"Everyone thought I would pull it out, so they didn't need to vote," he said. Cannon said he hopes to help groups of young Republicans and women Republicans to energize voters.

He said he also wants to work to "restore integrity in Congress and in the party." He said too many people believe that politics is corrupt — which he said is true sometimes — and he wants to help keep it clean by working in the party to help worthy candidates and issues.


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