Merrill Cook is a Utah businessman who persistently sought for political office in the state. He served in the U.S. House of Representatives from January 1997 to January 2001.
Cook ran for office as both Republican and Independent. In 1984 he ran for a spot on the Utah Board of Education, in 1985, in a special election, he ran for mayor of Salt Lake City, and in 1986, he sough a seat on the Salt Lake County Commission. He lost each time. He ran for governor of Utah twice, the first in 1988 and the second in 1992; he placed third and second, respectively.
In 1994, he made his first attempt his first run for Congress in Utah’s 2nd district, taking third in a race that Enid Greene won. When Greene announced she would not run for reelection, Cook jumped into the 1996 race and won. His term of office was sometimes marred by what was called erratic behavior, but he was elected for a second term. In the 2000 election, however, Cook lost in the primary, and the 2nd district win went to Jim Matheson.
Cook next ran for mayor of Salt Lake City in 2004. In 2006 he attempted to defeat 3rd district Congressman Chris Cannon, but was eliminated on the first ballot. Cook ran again for the 2nd district in 2008 but lost the Republican nomination. His final attempt was for Republican nomination for the U.S. Senate race in 2010 against incumbent Bob Bennett, but he did not make it past the first round of balloting at the state convention. In 2016, he announced he would run for state treasurer; he was defeated by the incumbent at the state convention.
Cook was born on May 6, 1946, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. His father was scientist Melvin A. Cook who pioneered the development of slurry explosives. Merrill founded Cook Slurry Company in 1973 and served as president and chief executive. His political activities were largely funded personally. He also worked as a budget analyst with Arthur D. Little, Inc. Cook earned his MBA from Harvard Business School and his bachelor’s degree from the University of Utah.
He is a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He and his wife, Camille, are the parents of five children.