Utah to lose sole Democratic member of Congress

Alexis Levinson Political Reporter
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Utah’s lone Democratic member of Congress will not seek re-election in 2014.

Utah Rep. Jim Matheson made the announcement Tuesday on Facebook.

“It has been a tremendous privilege to serve the people of Utah during my time in the United States House of Representatives, but my time in the House should not be the sum total of my service,” he wrote in a post. “Today, I am announcing that I will not seek re-election to the House of Representatives.”

Matheson indicated that this did not necessarily mean the end of his political career.

“Public service has been integral to my life for as long as I can remember,” he wrote. “I was raised to value the honor in public service and the responsibility of holding the public trust. My time in Congress has only strengthened these beliefs.”

“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. You can count on me to work hard, to solve problems, to achieve progress and to put Utah first,” he said. “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 faced a tough re-election campaign last year against former Saratoga Springs Mayor Mia Love, a Republican, who lost by only 768 votes. Love is running again in 2014. If elected, she would be the first black female Republican to serve in Congress. (RELATED: Mia Love 2.0)

“Congressman Matheson has served our state with passion and has been a dedicated public servant during his tenure in Congress,” Love said in a statement. “His announcement today does not change my campaign to represent the people of Utah’s 4th congressional district. I wish Congressman Matheson the very best during his final year as Congressman.”

As the lone Democrat in a deeply red state, Matheson regularly voted with Republicans: He was one of two Democrats to join with Republicans in voting to defund Obamacare while funding the government back in September in the fight leading up to the shutdown.

The National Republican Congressional Committee, which had made Matheson a top target for 2014, said Matheson’s decision was bad news for Democrats.

“This is a warning signal to Democrats coast to coast,” said NRCC Chairman Rep. Greg Walden in a statement. “Not only will this announcement allow Republicans to focus our energy and resources on defeating other vulnerable Democrats, but it also proves that Obamacare has become a total nightmare for any Democrat running in 2014.”

“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,” Walden added. “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.”

Rep. Steve Israel, the Chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, thanked Matheson for his service.

“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,” Israel said in a statement. “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. My colleagues and I will miss Jim’s voice, but we offer him our best wishes as he and his family start the next chapter of their service to the people of Utah.”

There is very little chance that Democrats will hold the seat in 2014.

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