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Republicans Can Pick Up Two Seats in Utah

Utah legislators passed a redistricting map Monday night that gives Republicans an opportunity to net two more districts in the state.

It’s a done deal, with the GOP-drawn map certain to be signed by Republican Gov. Gary Herbert. However, state Democratic Party Chairman Jim Dabakis told Roll Call that the party is likely to take the map to court.

Republicans have the edge in the new 4th district, which was added under reapportionment, and in the redrawn district of Rep. Jim Matheson. The Democrat’s current constituents were divided among the four districts under the new map, and he told the Salt Lake Tribune that he was keeping his options open, including running in the redrawn 2nd district, where he lives; running in the 4th district, which is the most Democratic-friendly; or challenging Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R) in the 3rd district.

Matheson has also kept a statewide campaign on the table. State Democrats would welcome a challenge to Herbert, and national Democrats would love for Matheson to challenge Sen. Orrin Hatch (R). The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee even released an internal poll Monday that indicated a potentially competitive race.

However, Hatch, who must first get through the GOP convention, is building a statewide operation and is setting Utah fundraising records. Hatch outraised Matheson in the third quarter by nearly 10-to-1.

Chaffetz’s 3rd district was redrawn to include his home, and it remains solidly Republican. Past performance numbers in his new and old districts are the same: Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) won 67 percent there in the 2008 presidential election, and President George W. Bush won 76 percent in 2004.

Rep. Rob Bishop’s (R) 1st district, which includes the state’s entire northern border, has identical presidential performance numbers to the 3rd district.

The new 4th district, in the center of the state, voted 56 percent for McCain and 66 percent for Bush.

Matheson’s 2nd district currently includes the state’s entire eastern border, but under the new map it includes most of the western border instead. The new district voted 58 percent for McCain and 67 percent for Bush, making it a marginally tougher district than the one he currently represents.

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