US House hopeful Tina Cannon puts focus on small business operators
Tim Vandenack, Standard-Examiner
OGDEN — Small business operators are a big focus for 1st District U.S. House hopeful Tina Cannon.
Addressing their needs and concerns figured in her successful bid in 2013 for a seat on the Morgan County Council. She served in that post from 2014 through 2020.
County leaders at the time “kept saying, ‘We’re business friendly,'” she said, but she didn’t see it. “It’s not, ‘Hey, move your business here so we can tax you.’ It’s making an environment where a business can succeed and do well.”
Her continued focus on the well-being of small business operators, farmers, ranchers and others comes through as she discusses her bid for the 1st District seat. She’s one of three GOP hopefuls for the post, along with first-term incumbent Blake Moore and fellow challenger Andrew Badger, and with mail-in ballots to soon go out to voters, it’s crunch time in the race. Voting in the GOP primary culminates June 28, and the winner will go against Democrat Rick Jones in November.
“It’s the economy,” Cannon, a lifelong resident of Northern Utah who now lives in Mountain Green, said, citing the driving force of her campaign. “We’ve met with farmers, ranchers, families, small business owners especially that have just been devastated over the last two years.”
Tim Vandenack, Standard-Examiner
Inflation, particularly burdensome to a small business, is a big concern, and she said her background in accounting, understanding of economics and experience as an elected county official gives her a leg up in helping counter rising prices.
“Too much money chasing too few goods. You have to bring those back in line, and right now, energy policy is key in turning this around,” she said in an interview at the Standard-Examiner offices in Ogden. More specifically, she called for pushing forward with development of the Keystone XL pipeline and increased U.S. energy production.
“You have to be able to drill in (the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge). You have to be able to drill in the Gulf (of Mexico),” she said, boosting production and thereby helping temper high fuel prices, a big inflationary pressure.
Cannon has been active in the Republican Party at the county and state level in Utah and ran for the 1st District seat in 2020, after Rob Bishop, who had held the seat for nine terms, decided not to run again. Those roots are a big selling point for Cannon as she campaigns — and a point of contrast with Moore and Badger.
Moore grew up in Ogden, inside the 1st District, but now lives in Salt Lake City, just outside the district boundaries.
“How do you truly reflect the interests of people who live here if you’re not part of them?” Cannon said. “I feel like it’s disrespectful to the people who have chosen this as their home, to think that you represent them well if you’re not even willing to live among them.”
Cannon’s roots in Northern Utah, along with her local government experience, factored in the endorsement she received from Bishop. “To me that’s very significant,” said Bishop, a Republican from Brigham City.
Federal law doesn’t require U.S. representatives to live in the district they represent, only within the state where the district is located, but those guidelines are an anomaly relative to other elected posts, Bishop noted. “Boundaries are essential in every other office,” he said.
Cannon also pointed her finger at Badger, a relative newcomer to the district, though he grew up in Utah. He lived and worked in the United Kingdom before his return to the state.
“(Badger) has no ties to this district, no history in this district at all. The question really becomes, if he loses will he stay here?” Cannon said.
In response, the Moore campaign reissued a prior statement on the residency question, with a few tweaks. The statement noted that he was born and raised in Weber County, within the 1st District, and that he studied at three universities in the district — Weber State, Utah State and the University of Utah.
Moore’s challengers “are grasping at straws,” the statement reads. “They know he has broad support in Northern Utah because of what he’s done to defend Hill Air Force Base and for how he’s helping Utahns stay focused on the real issues facing them, including crippling inflation, rising gas prices and weak foreign policy from the current administration.”
Badger, for his part, said even if he’s a relative newcomer to the 1st District, he’s earned the trust of residents here. He maintains this by pointing to his strong showing at the Utah Republican Party convention in April. He waged an intense campaign in reaching out to party delegates and ended up garnering nearly 60% backing at the convention, well ahead of Moore.
Moore’s residency outside the 1st District isn’t the only sore point for Cannon. She also noted a report that first came out last year from Insider, an online news outlet, that said Moore didn’t properly disclose “dozens of stock and stock-option trades together worth as much as $1.1 million.” He was among 63 U.S. lawmakers Insider said had violated a disclosure law meant to guard against insider trading among members of Congress.
“We cannot expect honest ethical government if we don’t elect honest ethical leaders,” Cannon said. The Insider report “was a big deal with me” and she doesn’t think Congress members should be able to buy individual stocks when serving, currently legal though lawmakers must disclose trading.
Moore’s campaign issued a statement in response, saying he has worked with the House Ethics Committee to meet the guidelines governing trading and that a financial firm now manages his retirement investments. He paid a fee for filing disclosure forms late “and he is in good standing with the Ethics Committee,” it reads.
All disclosure deadlines have since been met. “He is putting his assets in a qualified blind trust and is a proud cosponsor of the TRUST in Congress Act to prevent any false perceptions and promote accountability,” Moore’s statement reads.
Beyond the criticism of her competitors, Cannon puts the focus on her expertise in financial matters, vital, she maintains, in helping the country deal with inflation and other economic uncertainties. She runs an accounting firm.
“A basic understanding of financial systems is crucial at this point in time,” she said, particularly noting her expertise with regard to tax codes, something she says her competitors lack. “Neither one of them has that type of experience.”