Utah: Ex-Congressman Cooks Up Another Comeback

Posted March 3, 2008 at 6:40pm

Controversial ex-Rep. Merrill Cook (R) announced on Sunday that he has plans to take on Rep. Jim Matheson (D) in the fall.

Cook told The Salt Lake Tribune that he is running because Matheson “dances between both sides to make himself look acceptable to everyone.”

He becomes the first Republican in the race.

Cook’s announcement came one day after real estate developer Josh Romney (R), the son of former Massachusetts governor and erstwhile presidential contender Mitt Romney (R), announced that he would not run for Congress this year but would consider challenging Matheson in 2010.

“Just having come off a tough election with my dad, I think the family’s not quite ready to hop into another race,” the 32-year-old developer told the Tribune.

While Cook is a well-known political entity in the Beehive State, his entry into the race against Matheson will not be universally cheered by GOP officials.

After running several times for state and local offices in the 1980s and 1990s, Cook, a wealthy manufacturer of mining explosives, was elected to Congress in 1996. But he squabbled frequently with state and national Republican leaders and was defeated in the 2000 GOP primary.

Cook has attempted several political comebacks since, both as an Independent and as a Republican, including an unsuccessful GOP convention challenge of 3rd district Rep. Chris Cannon (R) in 2006.
— Josh Kurtz