Chris Cannon, a former representative for Utah’s 3rd Congressional District from 1997 until 2009, died unexpectedly Wednesday evening, his brother Joe Cannon confirmed to the Deseret News.

Cannon was born in Salt Lake City, Utah, on Oct. 20, 1950. He attended Brigham Young University for an undergraduate degree and subsequently a law degree. He also attended Harvard Business School. Prior to running for Congress, he was an associate solicitor for the Department of the Interior, from 1984-1986. He played a significant role in acquiring Geneva Steel from U.S. Steel.

In 1996, he defeated Democrat Bill Orton by four points and went on to be reelected five times. He was ultimately defeated by Jason Chaffetz in the 2008 primary election and came within less than one-tenth of a percentage point to losing at that year’s GOP convention.

In 1999, Cannon was a member of the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Commercial and Administrative Law, and became one of 13 House managers who prosecuted the case against President Bill Clinton in his impeachment trial. He became the chair of the Commercial and Administrative Law Subcommittee in January 2003 and held that position until he left office.

He also served on the Judiciary Subcommittee on Courts, the Internet, and Intellectual Property, the House Government Reform Committee, the Subcommittees on Criminal Justice, Drug Policy and Human Resources as well as Regulatory Affairs. Cannon was also a member of the House Resources Committee, serving on the Energy and Mineral Resources and Forests and Forest Health Subcommittees and was elected chair of the Western Caucus.

Since his time in Congress, he stayed busy with a number of business and consulting activities. He also loved being a grandfather, associates say.

Speaking of Cannon’s death, Gov. Spencer Cox posted on social media: “Abby and I were saddened to learn that Former Congressman Chris Cannon passed yesterday. Congressman Cannon worked hard for the people of Utah, and was a dedicated public servant working on criminal justice, drug policy, regulatory reform and other issues during his time in the House of Representatives. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and loved ones during this difficult time.”

“My heartfelt condolences to the family and loved ones of Rep. Chris Cannon,” posted Lt. Gov. Deidre Henderson. “He was a great leader and dedicated representative who served his community with passion and integrity.

Sen. Mike Lee said on X that he was “stunned and saddened” by the breaking news of the death of his friend. “I will miss his insights, encouragement, and friendship. Sharon and I mourn with his wife, Claudia, along with the couple’s children and extended family, all of whom are in our prayers as we who knew him try to come to terms with this heartbreaking news.”

Former Congressman Jason Chaffetz, who defeated Cannon, posted that he hoped “we all can thank him for his valiant, patriotic work fighting for the USA. 🇺🇸 May blessings be with his family.”

Current representative for the 3dd Congressional District, Rep. John Curtis, said: “I am saddened to learn of Chris’ passing. He was one of a kind. A visionary with big ideas coupled with personality and thoughtful humor. He served the residents of Utah’s Third Congressional District well.”

Cannon’s former chief of staff from 2003-2008, Joe Hunter, had this to say: In Congress, Chris Cannon was a fighter — tough and, yes, stubborn. Privately, he was a different guy. He couldn’t walk past a homeless person without digging into his pocket. It took forever to get to lunch or dinner on Capitol Hill. And ... he was really funny. RIP my friend.”

Cannon is survived by his wife, Claudia and seven of their eight children. His daughter Rachel died from cancer in 2005.

Funeral arrangements are pending.

This is a developing story and will be updated.