July 27, 2017

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.

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