SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- Dogged by accusations about his temper and his behavior, Rep. Merrill Cook has lost his bid for a third House term to become just the second incumbent -- and first Republican -- to lose in a primary this year.
In a race closely watched because of its potential effect on the GOP's slim majority in the House, political newcomer Derek Smith easily won the nomination in Utah's GOP primary. The 35-year-old millionaire computer company founder received 30,525 votes, or 59 percent, to Cook's 21,528 votes, or 41 percent.
''For an absolute political unknown to come out of nowhere and come from behind in just 12 weeks and win the Republican nomination says this is still the greatest country in the world,'' Smith said in his victory speech Tuesday night.
Smith moves on to face Democrat Jim Matheson in a contest that promises to be hotly contested and costly, with the GOP's 11-seat majority in the House potentially at stake.
Cook won the seat in 1996. Days before his re-election, he was briefly banned from state GOP headquarters after a foul-mouthed tirade to a receptionist. Soon after he won his second term, Cook fired chief of staff Janet Jenson, who accused him of delusional behavior.
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