Jim Matheson’s Future Remains Up in the Air

Posted October 5, 2011 at 10:32pm

Democratic Rep. Jim Matheson’s political future won’t be known for at least two more weeks after the Utah Legislature’s redistricting committee opted late Tuesday night to consider additional plans for a new map.

On the second day of a special session, the Legislature postponed dealing with Congressional redistricting until Oct. 17. A map agreed to by the committee last week and approved by the state Senate on Monday would have made it difficult for Matheson to win re-election, though he has won in a tough district since 2000.

But state Democratic Party Chairman Jim Dabakis called the proposed new district “hideous” and said Republicans had “gone to new lows” by drawing a map for political gain.

“If they don’t give him a decent map, then he’ll run probably for either governor or Senator,” Dabakis told Roll Call. “He has a very special appeal, and both Democrats and moderate, reasonable Republicans like him because he is so independent. He might do really well if he runs for governor.”

Republican consultant Jeff Hartley said Matheson should not be counted out if his district is drawn unfavorably. But winning a statewide race is another matter.

“I personally don’t think a Democrat can win statewide in Utah right now,” Hartley said. “If you look at some of the counties that are very strongly Republican, I think it’s statistically impossible for a Democrat to win statewide.”