Billy Hesterman - Daily Herald | Posted: Monday, April 23, 2012 2:53 pm
Saratoga Springs Mayor Mia Love stated that Rep. Jim Matheson, D-Utah, should be scared after she won the Republican nomination for Congress in Utah’s fourth district on Saturday, but Matheson isn’t sounding all that scared.
Just days after Love’s dramatic victory over well-known Republicans like Carl Wimmer and Stephen Sandstrom, Matheson says he is confident he can take on Love.
“I don’t think any of the Republican candidates are very different on the issues,” Matheson said. “I get the sense that all of them took positions that are way out there.”
While Republicans have tried almost every strategy possible to defeat Matheson since he took office after the 2002 elections, they have never put forward a woman or a minority. Love is both. She is the daughter of Haitian immigrants and could be the first black Republican congresswoman if she defeats Matheson in the November election. Matheson, though, doesn’t see the race as being any more challenging than the past races despite Love being his opponent.
“They are always tough,” Matheson said about his campaigns to be re-elected. “I’m used to running challenging races.”
Matheson lives outside of the fourth congressional district but argues that the newly created fourth district has the highest percentage of his old district located within its boundaries. The state Legislature redrew the lines last year, which essentially eliminated Matheson’s current district. Matheson said he will depend on those constituents of his who have been in his district in the past to re-elect him for a sixth term in Congress. He noted those constituents know he puts Utah values first when he decides on how he will vote.
“They know who I am and what I am about,” he said. “I really do think people in Utah take their vote pretty carefully. I don’t think they vote the party line, or else I wouldn’t be in office right now.”
Matheson won the Democratic nomination to be the candidate in the fourth district by acclamation at the Democrats’ state convention, held Saturday in Salt Lake City. He was joined by Peter Cooke, the party’s nominee for governor, in not being challenged at the convention.
Utah Democrats gave a solid vote of confidence to Soren Simonsen at the convention, giving him the nod for Utah’s third congressional district with 77 percent of the vote.
Simonsen was first elected to the council in 2005 and now serves as chairman of the council. He states on his website that he supports the Utah County Democratic platform, which is somewhat more conservative than the national Democratic platform. It specifically states that Utah County Democrats oppose elective abortions for convenience, but also recognizes that there are circumstances where an abortion may be justified.
Simonsen joins Scott Howell and Jay Seegmiller as Democratic candidates that will avoid a primary election as they all received the 60 percent supermajority vote from state Democratic party delegates. Howell will represent the party in the U.S. Senate race, Seegmiller will run in Utah’s second district.
A primary election will be held for the Democrats in Utah’s first congressional district, currently represented by Republican congressman Rob Bishop. Donna McAleer and Ryan Combe will meet in a primary in June to see who will challenge Bishop in November.
“It was a great day for the Democratic family. We broke attendance records, as we have at so many of our county conventions this year, we had great candidates to chose from, and the convention was a model of efficiency and civility,” said Jim Dabakis, chairman of the state Democratic party.