The Salt Lake Tribune takes a deeper dive today into the question of whether Utah Republican Gov. Gary Herbert took steps to try to make Democratic Rep. Jim Matheson's district a little friendlier for him. The paper's findings raise more questions about the extent to which Herbert tried to influence the final map.
The Tribune reported that the Republican state House chairman of the Redistricting Committee wondered -- to the point of emailing the governor's office -- whether Herbert would "veto any plan that is short of these expectations" outlined by his staff "since Ally [Isom, the governor's spokeswoman and deputy chief of staff] alluded to it at the end of our meeting."
Matheson has said he will not run against Sen. Orrin Hatch, but has not ruled out other options, among which a gubernatorial run is one. Democrats and Republicans agree that Matheson's new district under the map signed by Herbert last month is more Republican than it used to be.
State Rep. Ken Sumsion, who is the chairman of the Redistricting Committee, told the Tribune that a veto was never overtly threatened, but from "some of the tone of the discussions, I wondered."
Herbert's spokeswoman told the paper the governor never threatened a veto and "is not concerned about Matheson."
Herbert is already a target of tea party and conservative ire. Anything that smacks of political self-preservation is likely to only further inflame animosity on the right and among other opponents.