July 31, 2014

Matheson’s Re-Election Is On the Rocks

Jason Kane is a recovering rock star and an attorney in Salt Lake County. He is an occasional contributor to Publius Online.

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Mayor Mia Love of Saratoga Springs secured the Republican nomination for Congress by a resounding margin at Saturday’s convention, garnering a whopping 70% of the vote from the GOP delegates of Utah’s 4th Congressional District. The excitement and energy Love brought was palpable in the convention center. Mia Love is clearly entering the race for Congress with the wind at her back, something that cannot be said for her Democrat opponent.

Incumbent Jim Matheson’s future as a congressman is now in jeopardy, threatening to dislodge Utah Democrats’ last foothold in the state’s federal delegation. Polling data from the Salt Lake Tribune, reported prior to the convention, showed Jim Matheson slightly ahead of his Republican contenders, but within a margin of error of most of them. Matheson responded to the poll by noting that he hasn’t even begun campaigning, yet. Of course, that also means Jim’s opponent has yet to begin campaigning against him.

Many Democrats I have spoken with have been dismissive of the possibility that Matheson will be unseated by his Republican rival, apparently taking comfort in the soothing notion of the incumbency advantage. What they fail to acknowledge is that the ground has literally shifted under Matheson’s feet with the redistricting in 2011. The new 4tg Congressional District has little overlap with Matheson’s familiar stomping grounds in the former 2nd Congressional District, and the Democratic strongholds in Salt Lake City are a mere fraction of what they were in his old territory.

, Congressman from Utah (D-Utah, 2001-present)

, Congressman from Utah (D-Utah, 2001-present) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Fact of the matter is, Jim Matheson is a weak candidate in the new 4th Congressional District. Matheson has spent his days in Congress carefully straddling every issue, never taking a strong stand, so as not to upset either Party’s base back home too much. Mia Love, on the other hand, brings a youthful energy and excitement for conservative principles, which Jim is simply not equipped to contend with.  Now that she has bypassed a primary, Love will have the rest of the year to spend going after Matheson and persuading the voters of the new 4th congressional district.

Prediction: Mia Love routs Matheson in November.

Obamacare Proponents Brace for Supreme Court Smackdown

 Jason Kane is a recovering rock star and an attorney in Salt Lake County. He is an occasional contributor to Publius Online.

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In the days leading up to the Supreme Court oral arguments on the constitutionality of President’s Obama’s signature health care law, there was no end to the media speculation about which conservative leaning justice(s) would leave the dark-side and vote to uphold Obamacare. We were treated to a barrage of statistics touting the popularity of Obamacare, reminders that Republicans had supported mandates in the past and other specious arguments that have no bearing on the constitutionality of the law. Self-assured Progressives, it seemed, had little concern that socialized medicine was in any danger.

After one day of arguments that didn’t go particularly well for the government, the Obamacare cheerleaders seem to be in full back-peddle mode. One blog post at the Daily Beast is especially entertaining, arguing that if the individual health insurance mandate is struck down, it will actually be a boon to Obama’s reelection. Obama would no longer have to defend the controversial law and be free to run on his other spectacular achievements, like killing Bin Laden and… killing Bin Laden. This line of thinking, of course, flies in the face of common sense and everything we know about politics. Losing is bad for business and tends to embolden the opposition. In this particular election year, it also happens to help rid Romney of much of the health care baggage that continues to poison the well with many Republicans.

To be sure, I think it is premature to start dancing on the grave of Obamacare. But the tough skepticism exhibited by Justice Kennedy, the left’s only hope in a 5-4 decision, gives Obamacare proponents good reason for concern. We cannot foretell the outcome based on oral arguments alone, though they do seem to hold particular weight in this case. At the very least though, the seeds of self-doubt have been sewn among the Progressives. We should allow ourselves savor this rare phenomenon while it lasts.