Matheson’s Exit Likely to Result in GOP Pickup

Seventh-term Utahn is the first House Democrat to announce his outright retirement next year.

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Scott Bland
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Scott Bland
Dec. 17, 2013, 10:07 a.m.

Rep. Jim Math­eson, D-Utah, an­nounced Tues­day he will re­tire after 2014, mean­ing Demo­crats will likely cede his heav­ily Re­pub­lic­an-lean­ing dis­trict in the next elec­tion. Math­eson is the first House Demo­crat to out­right re­tire; the oth­er Demo­crats not run­ning again are seek­ing high­er of­fice next year.

Pres­id­ent Obama won just 30 per­cent in Math­eson’s dis­trict in 2012, the low­est share in any Demo­crat­ic-held dis­trict and Obama’s 25th-worst dis­trict na­tion­wide. Math­eson’s Blue Dog mod­er­ate vot­ing re­cord and brand name — his fath­er was Utah’s gov­ernor three dec­ades ago — barely pro­tec­ted him from the Re­pub­lic­an tide: Saratoga Springs May­or Mia Love, who is run­ning for the Re­pub­lic­an nom­in­a­tion again in 2014, fin­ished few­er than 1,000 votes be­hind Math­eson.

Love has been rais­ing money and cam­paign­ing for months already and now be­comes one of the biggest early fa­vor­ites to join the House as a fresh­man in 2015. She would be the first Afric­an-Amer­ic­an Re­pub­lic­an wo­man in Con­gress if she wins.

Mean­while, Math­eson’s re­tire­ment con­tin­ues the de­cline of two over­lap­ping Demo­crat­ic groups: Blue Dogs and Demo­crats who op­posed Nancy Pelosi’s bid to con­tin­ue lead­ing their caucus after the elect­or­al shel­lack­ing of 2010. There are just 15 Blue Dog Demo­crats in the House now, down from 26 in the pre­vi­ous Con­gress and 54 in the Con­gress be­fore that. Mean­while, 19 Demo­crats pub­licly op­posed Pelosi for speak­er on the House floor in Janu­ary 2011, and Math­eson will be­come the 11th to leave the House at the end of his term.

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