HERRIMAN — Rep. Carl Wimmer, R-Herriman, announced Wednesday that he will resign from the Utah Legislature to focus on raising money for his run for Utah's new 4th Congressional District.
Wimmer hopes to become the Republican nominee to face Congressman Jim Matheson for the seat in November.
His announcement came a few days after his campaign office was burglarized. Someone kicked in all the office's doors, rummaged through all the desks and paperwork, and made a mess of the place, only to take $13 and a campaign worker's candy bar, he said.
Wimmer chose to resign because a Utah law prohibits a state legislator from fundraising for office during the legislative session, which begins Jan. 23. He said that as a "blue-collar, middle-class" person, he cannot afford to forgo fundraising for two months and still expect to beat Matheson.
"I am treading new ground here, showing that the middle class of America can still run for Congress," he said.
Wimmer said he's raised $200,000 as of the end of 2011, but wants to raise $300,000 to $400,000 by the state Republican convention.
Wimmer said his resignation will be effective Monday, but he plans to spend several days helping his replacement learn the ropes.
"It was one of the toughest decisions my wife and I have had to make," Wimmer said Wednesday morning. Most of his constituents he's talked to have encouraged him to resign if that's what it takes to win the congressional seat, he said.
The deciding factor for him was those constituents.
"They deserve a fully engaged representative," Wimmer said. "I believe that to my very core, in my heart."
The national government is at an important time, he added. "We are mortgaging our children's future for our selfish desires."
Wimmer said he supports Herriman Mayor Josh Mills, who has expressed interest in the seat, to replace him. The decision will fall to Republican Party delegates of District 52, which covers Herriman and Riverton and a small part of South Jordan.
Dan McCay, a real estate attorney and statewide director of the tea party organization FreedomWorks, said he will also seek the post.
The Riverton resident said he has been meeting with delegates and openly running for Wimmer's legislative seat for about a month, as Wimmer's resignation seemed imminent.
"The writing was on the wall," McCay said.
Corbin White, a member of the Jordan Board of Education, said he will also run. The Riverton resident owns an entertainment company that produces "mock TV game show-style events" for business meetings and conventions, as well as school assemblies.
Salt Lake County Republican Party Chair Julie Dole said Mills, McCay and White are all eligible to run in District 52 for the special election. But due to redisctricting, only Mills will remain eligible for the District 52 seat in November's general election, Dole said. For that election, McCay and White will reside in District 41, and White is already running for that seat.
Dole said she hopes to have Wimmer's replacement in place by Jan. 20, just in time for the Legislature's opening day, Jan. 23.
But to make that happen, Thursday she plans to give notice of the special election. Two weeks later on Jan. 19, some 97 county delegates who live within District 52 will gather to vote. On Jan. 20, Gov. Gary Herbert would then have to make the official appointment, she said.
The replacement process follows the county party's bylaws.
The Legislature has already lost several members to the lure of federal office, and is due to lose another.
State Rep. Stephen Sandstrom, R-Orem, who has announced he will also run for the 4th District seat, has said he will resign from the Legislature, but not until after it concludes March 8. He has said he wants to remain in the fight over ongoing immigration issues.
In December, Rep. Dave Clark, R-Santa Clara, announced his resignation from the Legislature due to the fundraising ban. He is running for the 2nd Congressional District seat.
And state Sen. Dan Liljenquist, R-Bountiful, also resigned in December. Wednesday he announced his bid to unseat U.S. Sen. Orrin Hatch in November.
As for the break-in, Wimmer said the landlord of the building containing his office was notified by police early Tuesday morning about the incident.
For some reason, whoever burglarized the building passed over stealing hundreds or thousands of dollars of computer equipment, flat-screen TVs and cellphones, he said.
"I have nothing to indicate that it is politically motivated. And certainly, I wouldn't make any kind of accusation to that degree," Wimmer said.
"I've been in law enforcement most of my adult life, and burglaries happen."
Cpl. Shane Taylor, Saratoga Springs police spokesman, said that all eight suites of Building C at 14587 S. 790 West, Bluffdale, were broken into sometime between Friday and Monday. The burglary was discovered Monday. The entry doors to all eight suites were broken open, but only $13 and some candy bars were stolen from a sandwich shop that occupies one of those suites.
Wimmer occasionally leases a 10 feet by 10 feet room for his campaign within the building's Suite 204, Taylor said, which is otherwise occupied by a food handler. Desks within that office had been rummaged through, but nothing was taken.