Toxic politics. Threats and online abuse are making the campaign trail miserable for a Utah congressional candidate

First District Republican Tina Cannon is no longer announcing her public appearances out of fear for her safety.

(Trent Nelson | The Salt Lake Tribune) First District Republican candidate Tina Cannon is under a withering barrage of online harassment, and even some threats, from people who are pushing her to drop out of the race.

A Utah congressional candidate is being hounded by harassment and threats from people hoping to push her out of the race ahead of next week’s primary election.

First District Republican Tina Cannon is struggling to keep her campaign going under a constant barrage of online trolling, emails and threatening phone calls telling her to drop out of the race.

Cannon declined to comment out of fear for her own safety, but a campaign source says they have stopped giving advance notice of where she will be on the campaign trail out of an abundance of caution. A recent threat against Cannon was reported to law enforcement.

The effort to get Cannon to drop out makes little sense as ballots have been in voters’ hands for more than a week.

Cannon is one of two candidates challenging First District incumbent Republican Blake Moore from the political right in the June 28 primary election, the other being Andrew Badger.

The attacks against Cannon are the latest indication of a political culture that is growing ever more toxic. Republican congressman Adam Kinzinger recently disclosed he received a death threat as a result of his work on the House committee investigating Jan. 6. The letter, mailed to his house, threatened to “execute” him and his family, including his 5-month-old child.

Davis County Republican Chair Daniela Harding says she is aware of the harassment targeting Cannon, which she describes as shameful.

“I’ve seen some ugly campaign tactics during my time, but this takes the cake,” Harding said.

It’s not just political candidates. Harding says they have had to ask the Davis County Sheriff to provide a uniformed officer at party meetings since their convention in April, including last week’s central committee meeting.

“I think it’s safe to say that a police presence is becoming normal at county meetings,” Harding said.

Several uniformed Draper police officers provided security for the recent U.S. Senate debate sponsored by the Utah Republican Party.

Former congressman Rob Bishop, who endorsed Cannon in this year’s race, says the harassment targeting her is unlike anything he’s seen during his decades in politics.

“Threats should never be any part of a political discussion,” Bishop said.

Bishop retired from Congress in 2020 after nine terms. Prior to that, he was elected to the Utah House of Representatives nine times, serving as House Speaker from 1992-1994.

Bishop says he briefly considered returning to the political arena this year, but the toxic environment quickly dissuaded him.

“The impact on the body politic from this is terrible. It’s much different than anything I experienced when I was in Congress or running for the Legislature,” Bishop said.

Former congressional candidate Kathleen Anderson says the harassment coming at Cannon is similar to what she experienced when she ran in 2020′s crowded Republican field in the 4th Congressional District primary race.

“I got death threats and vile messages calling me the ‘c-word,’” Anderson says. “It’s the primary reason I now have a concealed carry permit.”

Anderson says she received a fresh onslaught of abuse when she endorsed Cannon’s candidacy earlier this month.