James David "Jim" Matheson (born March 21, 1960) is the U.S. Representative for Utah's 2nd congressional district, serving since 2001. He is a member of the Democratic Party. The district includes eastern Salt Lake City. Matheson currently holds the distinction of representing the most Republican district in the nation represented by a Democrat.
Early life, education and career
Matheson was born in Salt Lake City, Utah, and obtained an A.B. from Harvard College and his M.B.A.
from the UCLA Anderson School of Management. His father, Scott M. Matheson, served as Governor of Utah from 1977 to 1985, and his brother, Scott Matheson, Jr., was the 2004 Democratic nominee for Governor. Matheson is a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Prior to entering politics, Matheson worked in the energy field, working for several different companies and studying environmental policy. He later started his own energy consulting firm.
His wife, Amy, is a pediatrician and they have two sons.
He also joined a group that was in favor of increased compensation for people who were affected by the radiation from Cold War atomic testing. The radioactive fallout from nuclear tests caused the cancer that would kill Matheson's father.
U.S. House of Representatives
Matheson is co-chairman of the Blue Dog Coalition, a conservative group of 25 Democrats in the House. He also is a member of the New Democrat Coalition.
Like most Utah Democrats, Matheson is relatively conservative by national party standards. In the National Journal ratings in 2010, Matheson was more conservative than 51% of his colleagues, but more liberal than 49%, making him one of the most conservative Democrats, yet a centrist overall.
On November 3, Matheson voted against requiring public disclosure of bonuses and golden parachute arrangements (agreements between a company and an employee specifying that the employee will receive significant benefits if they are terminated). This was a bill that the Democrats heavily supported, and the Republicans were opposed to .Only five other Democrats voted against the bill.
Matheson voted against raising the federal debt limit, as well as against both Republican and Democratic budgets that did not reduce the deficit. Matheson, a former energy industry businessman, voted against authorizing the construction of new oil refineries. In March, 2007, Matheson was one of 14 Democrats who voted against a bill that would require President George W. Bush to bring combat troops home from Iraq by September 1, 2008.Matheson has always voted conservative in regards to the wars in the middle east, he voted in favor of using military force against Iraq in 2003, voted against removing troops from Libya in 2011, and against removing troops from Pakistan in 2010.
He did however, vote in favor of requiring a timetable for withdrawal from Afghanistan, after opposing the bill in two previous votes. Matheson leans pro-life but supports expanding federal funding for embryonic stem cell research. He was rated 55% from National Right to Life Committee indicating a mixed record on abortion and 30% from NARAL indicating a pro-life voting record. However, Matheson's NARAL Pro-Choice America rating dropped to 0% in 2010, while he garnered a 50% rating from the National Right to Life Committee.
Matheson has been a strong supporter of regulating Wall Street, voting in favor of The Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, the strongest set of Wall Street reforms since the 1930s. In a comment on this legislation, Matheson stated, "Nearly two years ago the subprime mortgage meltdown triggered the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression.
We've been living under the same set of rules that were in place before the financial crisis sparked the job-killing recession. Now, that is about to change." Matheson is also opposed to the No Child Left Behind Act, believing that education is a local issue and federal funds should come with minimal strings attached. Matheson also believes that the “Highly Qualified Teacher” requirements should be more flexible, and that states should have alternative options to the single standardized test used in No Child Left Behind.
In November 2009, during intense debates over American health care reform, Matheson voted against the Affordable Health Care for America Act.When President Obama named Matheson's brother Scott M. Matheson to the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit at a time where he needed Matheson's vote for the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, the Weekly Standard posted an article that said "Barack Obama will host ten House Democrats who voted against the health care bill in November at the White House; he's obviously trying to persuade them to switch their vote to yes. One of the ten is Jim Matheson of Utah." They suggested that the White House was using this timely nomination to influence Matheson's vote. Matheson responded by saying that he is very happy for his brother and that "the federal 10th Circuit Court will gain a judge devoted to judicial integrity, fairness and knowledge of the law." In March 2010, he was one of 34 Democrats to vote against the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, which passed the House 219-212. However, when the 112th Congress reconsidered the legislation in January 2011, Matheson voted against repealing the healthcare overhaul.
In July 2011, Matheson was one of five Democrats to vote for the Cut, Cap, and Balance Act.
In 2000, Matheson was tapped to run for the 2nd District seat. The Democrats were optimistic in part because the 2nd District has historically been friendlier to Democrats than the rest of Utah and in part because two-term incumbent Merrill Cook had a reputation for erratic behavior. The prospect of losing the seat frightened district Republicans enough that Cook was unseated in the primary by computer executive Derek Smith. However, Matheson defeated Smith comfortably, taking 56 percent of the vote even as George W. Bush won the district with 57% of the vote.
During the 2000s round of redistricting, the Republican-controlled state legislature significantly altered Matheson's district. The old 2nd had been located entirely in Salt Lake County since the 1980s round of redistricting; Salt Lake County has historically been friendlier to Democrats (at least at the state and local level) than the rest of Utah. The legislature drew all or part of 14 mostly rural counties in eastern and southern Utah into the 2nd. They were only connected to Salt Lake City by a narrow band of territory in heavily Republican Utah County. In addition, the legislature shifted most of western Salt Lake City to the 1st, leaving the more conservative eastern part of the city in the 2nd. The new district was approximately six points more Republican than its predecessor. Matheson was thought to face difficult odds for reelection, even though his family has roots in southern Utah.
As expected, the 2002 race was very close. Matheson defeated State Representative John Swallow by only 1,600 votes, largely due to a 25,800-vote margin over Swallow in Salt Lake County. According to at least one study, some extra financial help from the Republican Party might have helped Swallow defeat Matheson.
Matheson defeated Swallow again—this time by a 12-point margin even as Bush won the state by a large margin (and carried the district with 67 percent of the vote).
Matheson defeated State Representative LaVar Christensen by 22 points.
Matheson defeated Republican challenger Bill Dew in the 2008 general election by 28 percent.
Matheson won against Republican nominee Morgan Philpot. In May, Matheson faced his first challenge from within his party. Claudia Wright claimed that Jim Matheson was not liberal enough and obtained 45% of the vote at the Democratic State Convention, forcing a primary for the Democratic nomination. After weeks of campaigning Matheson secured the Democratic nomination, by obtaining 67.5% of the vote.
Matheson had said he was considering a run for statewide office in 2012, particularly if his seat was substantially changed in redistricting. Polling conducted in July 2011 showed Matheson leading incumbent Republican Senator Orrin Hatch in a possible 2012 Senate race.
On December 15, 2011, Matheson announced that he will run for the newly created seat in the 4th District, meaning there will be an open-seat race for the 2nd district. The race is not expected to be competitive for Democrats.
February 21st, 2012