Democratic retirement gives GOP prime House pickup opportunity
December 17th, 2013
03:30 PM ET
4 months ago

Democratic retirement gives GOP prime House pickup opportunity

Updated 4:12 p.m., 12/17/13

(CNN) – In an apparent major setback for House Democrats, longtime Rep. Jim Matheson of Utah announced Tuesday he will not seek re-election next year.

"I take the role of representative seriously and intend to conclude this chapter of my service to our state in the same way I have always approached my job," Matheson wrote in a posting on his Facebook page.

The seven-term House Democrat suggested his next chapter would involve his home state, adding "You can count on me to work hard, to solve problems, to achieve progress and to put Utah first. While at the end of 2014 my tenure in the House of Representatives will come to an end, my duty to our state and our country will undoubtedly continue."

Matheson narrowly won re-election last year, beating out Mia Love, an African American mayor of Saratoga Springs, by less than 800 votes. Love, who enjoyed the support of tea party activists and other grassroots conservatives, was featured prominently by the national party with a prime speaking slot at the 2012 GOP convention in Tampa. Love announced earlier this year that she would once again challenge Matheson for Utah's fourth congressional district.

"Congressman Matheson has served our state with passion and has been a dedicated public servant during his tenure in Congress. His announcement today does not change my campaign to represent the people of Utah's 4th congressional district," said Love in a statement.

A leading member of the group of fiscally conservative Democrats known as the "Blue Dogs," Matheson was one of a dwindling number of Democratic moderates left in the House and frequently broke with Democratic leaders. He opposed the Affordable Care Act in 2009 and voted against Nancy Pelosi to serve as the top Democratic leader in the House.

Rep. Greg Walden, chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee, said that Matheson's retirement announcement is a warning signal for Democrats.

"It's telling that Matheson, who didn't even vote for ObamaCare's original passage, knows he can't run and win in this climate. If it's this bad for him, imagine how bad 2014 will be for the vast majority of Democrats who actually supported ObamaCare from its start," said Walden in a statement.

Rep. Steve Israel of New York, the chairman of the rival Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, praised Matheson.

"For his entire career in public service, Jim Matheson has been putting his constituents first, and it's been an honor to serve with him. Jim's priorities have always been to focus on working together to solve our problems, responsibly put our fiscal house in order and make our country strong for the next generation," said Israel in a statement.

But Israel made no mention keeping the district in party hands.

Minutes after Matheson's announcement, the Rothenberg Political Report, one of the top non-partisan political handicappers, switched their rating of the race from "tossup" to "safe R."

Utah's third congressional district is reliably red in presidential elections, with Sen. John McCain and Mitt Romney easily carrying the district in the 2008 and 2012 contests.

Matheson becomes the first House Democrat to announce his retirement at the end of the term. Seven House Republicans have announced they will not run for re-election next year.

CNN Political Editor Paul Steinhauser contributed to this story.


Filed under: House • Jim Matheson
soundoff (25 Responses)
  1. Sniffit

    "GOP congressman's retirement could put key district in play"

    "Democratic retirement gives GOP prime House pickup opportunity"

    Yeah, oh so "liberal."

    December 17, 2013 03:35 pm at 3:35 pm |
  2. Malory Archer

    Sniffit

    "GOP congressman's retirement could put key district in play"

    "Democratic retirement gives GOP prime House pickup opportunity"

    Yeah, oh so "liberal."

    +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    I know, right? They're TOTALLY in the tank for (insert derogatory term for President Obama here) and the libruls!

    December 17, 2013 03:40 pm at 3:40 pm |
  3. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA -aka- Take Back The House -aka- No Redemption Votes

    It's Utah & mormon country for Christ sake. I'm shocked a democrat held the seat.

    December 17, 2013 03:47 pm at 3:47 pm |
  4. The Real Tom Paine

    This is UT: why would anything about this being a safe pickup for the GOP be a surprise to anyone?

    December 17, 2013 03:52 pm at 3:52 pm |
  5. Winning

    Media bias has come to mean that anytime a conservative receives any sort of bad press, including simply reporting what a conservative has said or done, that the news organizations are against conservatives. It's just whining at this point. There are some liberal outlets. There are many, many conservative outlets as well.

    December 17, 2013 03:53 pm at 3:53 pm |
  6. smith

    Well darn ya, I was hoping dumb bat Pelosi might be hanging it up.
    @Malory and Sniffit- This isn`t a blog on msnbc. If you want liberal bias go their blogs.

    December 17, 2013 03:56 pm at 3:56 pm |
  7. simplyput

    America and Cnn....the land of opportunity. What's the problem here? You win a few, you lose a few. Thanks for being the best there is, CNN. When ideas and congresspeople are due for change, we can all take part.

    December 17, 2013 03:57 pm at 3:57 pm |
  8. Sniffit

    "I know, right? They're TOTALLY in the tank for (insert derogatory term for President Obama here) and the libruls!"

    You can honestly hear CNN's excitement in the latter headline, versus the more mundane and subdued blandness of the former.

    December 17, 2013 04:00 pm at 4:00 pm |
  9. Moderate Sean

    With this retirement, a Republican is probably assured a victory in this normally red Utah District, but where is a similiar headline for the 10th Congressional District in Virginia? Frank Wolf, the current Republican House Rep., just announced his retirement as well. As an FYI – this northern Virginia district has voted comfortably twice now for the Democratic Presidential candidate. I would bet money on this being a Democratic pick-up! Thus, a net zero gain for either party for these two seats. I think Rep. Walden, from Oregon, is bit premature in assessing the situation of impending doom for the Dems....more like wishful thinking from a Republican mouthpiece!!

    December 17, 2013 04:06 pm at 4:06 pm |
  10. Winning

    Not only are there plenty of conservative outlets, the conservatives will scream bias sometimes just because their statements are called out as being incorrect, or because the news will report things like science stories without editorializing it put it in line with conservative ideology. They've become a bunch of narrow minded, know nothing babies.

    December 17, 2013 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  11. The Real Tom Paine

    -smith

    Well darn ya, I was hoping dumb bat Pelosi might be hanging it up.
    @Malory and Sniffit- This isn`t a blog on msnbc. If you want liberal bias go their blogs.
    **********************
    Really classy comments there, Smith: now, do you actually have anything of substance to add, or are you intent on perpetuating the stereotype of conservatives as nothing more than peevish children? Come to think of it, are you even willing to try? Granted, it would take some efffort on your part, so none of us are really hopeful that you can overcome your mental conditioning and adopt a civil tone.

    December 17, 2013 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
  12. Sniffit

    "@Malory and Sniffit- This isn`t a blog on msnbc. If you want liberal bias go their blogs."

    Hey, Derporella, we were commenting on the appearance of conservative bias, not the absence of liberal bias, but thanks for yet again illustrating the righties' inability to get the point and stay on topic.

    December 17, 2013 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  13. tom l

    @Sniffit,

    ""I know, right? They're TOTALLY in the tank for (insert derogatory term for President Obama here) and the libruls!"

    You can honestly hear CNN's excitement in the latter headline, versus the more mundane and subdued blandness of the former."
    =====

    I think you're paranoid. CNN actually does a semi-decent job of not being too biased one way or the other. Both headlines seemed to be pretty appropriate.

    On another note, I really have come to respect you (even though I think you focus on race way too much which bums me out). I appreciate your passion for your side and the fact that you actually read what the conservatives on here say. I still think your in the tank for Obama and can't understand why you support him so much but I have certainly grown to appreciate you for who you are. :)

    December 17, 2013 04:19 pm at 4:19 pm |
  14. tom l

    @Sniffit

    "@Malory and Sniffit- This isn`t a blog on msnbc. If you want liberal bias go their blogs."

    Hey, Derporella, we were commenting on the appearance of conservative bias, not the absence of liberal bias, but thanks for yet again illustrating the righties' inability to get the point and stay on topic.

    ===========

    Can you talk to Rudy about that please? ;)

    I think the point he was trying to make is that this is an unbiased place (and since they make both sides feel as though the other side is treated better they must be doing something right). I think he was mainly commenting on your complaining that it wasn't favoring your side enough so he was merely saying this is a place that isn't just reaching out to the far left crowd. That's all. I don't think his comment was too crazy at all.

    December 17, 2013 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  15. Thomas

    It will be great to see an African American Mormon conservative in Utah .

    We need change , not tomorrow , but today .

    Ted Cruz / Darrell Issa 2016
    Good Cop / Bad Cop

    December 17, 2013 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  16. Peppy

    Congrats for the pres, biggest liar of the year award. As an added attraction, a no class selfie at a funeral in front of his wife. This dude couldn't lead a customer to a table at a 4 table restaurant.

    December 17, 2013 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  17. smith

    @Tom P- Civil tone? First,Im not running around screaming racism when somebody doesn`t worship Obama. That`s you and your in denial buddies on this blog. Second, Im not a Republican. Last but not least, Yes should have gotten in the hall of fame over Nirvana.

    December 17, 2013 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  18. Sniffit

    "I think you're paranoid. CNN actually does a semi-decent job of not being too biased one way or the other."

    They do TOO good a job of it because they, and the public, are still infatuated with the absurd notion that treating everything as exactly the same, even when things are not the same, automatically means you're being "unbiased". They still haven't figured out that deliberately manufacturing false equivalence is actually a form of bias.

    December 17, 2013 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  19. The Real Tom Paine

    -Peppy

    Congrats for the pres, biggest liar of the year award. As an added attraction, a no class selfie at a funeral in front of his wife. This dude couldn't lead a customer to a table at a 4 table restaurant.
    ********************************
    Oh, I'll bet you spent all day working on that one, especially since its obvious you were oblivious to what the article was about. Congratulations for providing more proof to the stereotype that conservatives are incapable of addressing the subject at hand, much less provide any real insight. BTW, Sarah Palin won the innaugural award for her idiotic death panels comment, and the GOP has won it 3 out of the last 5 years. With people like you posting, its clear they have a very deep bench in terms of blinkered true believers who will do whatever their AM radio hosts demand.

    December 17, 2013 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  20. The Real Tom Paine

    @ tom l,
    So, a person calling the House Minority Leader " dumb bat pelosi" is an example of what you would describe as an adult comment? it would help if you looked at the remark in its totality, and it was not particularly insightful.

    December 17, 2013 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  21. tom l

    Sniffit

    "I want to understand better."

    Then stop listening to people like Rush Limbauh, Sean Hannity, Rand Paul and Neil Boortz.

    ======

    I sometimes listen to Rush because I think he's funny but I certainly don't get opinions from him
    I never listen to Hannity because he is just a mouthpiece (and an annoying one) for the repubs
    I love Ron Paul and believe in his libertarian philosophy. I respect him as he stands for what he believes in and was chided by the repub party which makes me respect him more.
    I like Boortz's position on the fair tax but I really never listen to him and he's not even on the radio any more

    I think it's important to listen to all of these people. I also take the time to listen to Maddow/Matthews, as well from time to time. I watch Crossfire because they have opposing views. I read the opinion columns of Krugman and Dowd. I used to listen to Randi Rhodes but she's not on the radio any more. I believe you should listen to all types of opinions so you can then form your own based on what you agree with and what you don't.

    December 17, 2013 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  22. tom l

    @ tom l,
    So, a person calling the House Minority Leader " dumb bat pelosi" is an example of what you would describe as an adult comment? it would help if you looked at the remark in its totality, and it was not particularly insightful.

    =====

    Why do you look to me all the time to be the police of the conservatives? Of course conservatives use those terms and I think it lessens their credibility, as well. But man, why do you find it so important to always do that? It's kinda odd. I'm not gonna waste my time with every post that utilizes name calling. It's just not worth it. My point was with Mallory that she can't post without using those terms. It's very childish, in my humble opinion.

    Should I call you out for not defending me when Rudy was making things up about me? Of course not. It's not your job and too many posts never make it on here so perhaps you were trying to post something, or maybe I missed it.

    December 17, 2013 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  23. smith

    Thank you Tom L. CNN, does a good jobs reporting all political news no matter which party it effects. As an Independent, I find that CNN fits me best. However, to be fair I do switch to both MSNBC and FOX from time to time to really hear all sides of certain topics.

    December 17, 2013 04:54 pm at 4:54 pm |
  24. The Real Tom Paine

    -smith

    @Tom P- Civil tone? First,Im not running around screaming racism when somebody doesn`t worship Obama. That`s you and your in denial buddies on this blog. Second, Im not a Republican. Last but not least, Yes should have gotten in the hall of fame over Nirvana.
    ****************
    First off, I have never played the race card, and you're accusing me of that only shows how recent and ignorant an arrival you are on here.. Second, I really don't care what your beliefs are, but its clear you are only interested in posting comments that show you have a lazy intellect and a narrow mind that cannot go past sound bites on AM radio. Finally, if I really had been put in the Hall of Fame ahead of Nirvana, do you really think I would bother responding to the likes of you? You would be paying for the privilige of seeing me. Thanks for playing, dumb bat.

    December 17, 2013 04:54 pm at 4:54 pm |
  25. smith

    @Tom P- What is Pelosi related to you or something? i think Palin is on the borderline of stupid and I refer to Christie as the awesome fat man. Feel better, have a sense of humor. Geez.

    December 17, 2013 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |