Joe Cannon endorsed Republican primary rival Bob Bennett for the U.S. Senate on Friday, saying he wouldn't now do anything different than he did in his losing campaign - except spend so much money.
In his first public appearance since the Sept. 8 primary, Cannon said by the time all of his campaign expenses are paid, his race will have cost more than $6 million, virtually all of it his own money.The money came from both Cannon's bank accounts and a loan backed by his stock in Geneva Steel. Cannon, who officially returned to Geneva as chief executive officer on Thursday, said Geneva won't be hurt by his campaign debt.
"I can tell you I've got way more assets than I do liabilities right now. Far more than I need to pay off the debt," Cannon said, calling rumors that the company was headed for bankruptcy "an absolute lie."
Although he acknowledged the recession is affecting business, he said Geneva is "not anything like close to bankruptcy and it frustrates me to even hear that."
Cannon said he had no regrets about his campaign, except possibly the cost. Between the four Republican and Democratic candidates, more than $10 million was spent, making it one of the most expensive races in the country.
"I haven't tortured myself about what could have happened," Cannon said. After vacationing with his family, he said he feels "refreshed and very much at peace with myself."
Cannon said he is endorsing Bennett because "it's the right thing to do," not because he feels he has to. "I am Republican to the core, but I'm not doing this just to be a good soldier," he said.
Cannon said Bennett would vote the same way in the Senate as he would have. "We differ on virtually no issues," he said, praising Bennett for his knowledge of business and emphasis on economic growth.
Bennett, who stood beside Cannon during the press conference in the state Capitol, said he was grateful for the support and thanked Cannon for "making it clear the party will stay together."
Don't look for Cannon to appear in any of Bennett's campaign advertising, however. Bennett told reporters he has no intention of straying from his successful commercials, which feature him talking directly to viewers.
"We think voters need to see the person who appears on the ticket," Bennett said. An exception may be made for Sen. Jake Garn, R-Utah. Bennett said he expects a public endorsement soon from the senator he hopes to replace.
Bennett said Friday he spent about $2 million to win the primary and anticipates spending another $1 million through the general election. Most of the money already spent has been his own.