It’s natural to think that Romney will have long coattails here. He’s a Republican. Utah is a Republican state. Republicans should do quite well here as a result, right? At the very least, Democrat Jim Matheson should be in real trouble in his bid for another term. That’s not how Matheson sees it.
“In a Romney presidency, if we don’t want him to suffer from the gridlock we have now, he’s going to have to work in a bi-partisan manner, and he will have no better friend in Washington than me.”
That doesn’t mean Matheson is rooting for a Romney win in November. He just says it’s a good example of how his middle of the road and independent approach should appeal to voters.
“I think the public wants something different than polarization. People are registering as independents and walking away from both parties. They’re fed up with the bickering and polarization.”
The trick for Democrats this year is to appeal to voters who will come out for Romney, but haven’t been regulars at the polls for quite some time. Matheson thinks the “Romney factor” this year is real, but it doesn’t spell doom for him.
“My history has always been one where the Republican candidate for president has run quite well in Utah and I’ve run better than that. The voters that vote on a casual basis are less hardened in that partisanship. I think it’s going to bring out voters who are independently minded and I’m confident that there will be a lot of people voting for him who will also vote for me.”
Matheson’s Republican opponent, Mia Love, is unlike anyone he’s faced before. If elected, she would be the first black Republican woman in Congress. She’s garnered national attention from her primetime speaking slot at the Republican National Convention and she has been able to raise money unlike any of the Republicans who challenged Matheson before her. Despite all of that, Matheson hasn’t changed the way he’s approached the 2012 campaign.
“The only things that’s different this time around is technology is taking us in different directions. From a tactical or strategic standpoint there’s nothing different. I run the same campaign I do every time.”
Many observers, including me, think Matheson is in for the fight of his political life this year. He barely beat Morgan Philpot in 2010, and that was without Mitt Romney at the top of the ticket. Not surprisingly, Matheson disagrees with that assessment of the race.
“It’s easy for people to take a mistaken view of the race by relying on their gut and emotion, and that’s not a good idea. You have to look at hard data and see what’s going on. In this race, I have such a strong set of issues that are different between me and my opponent that it gives me confidence that the movement we’re seeing will be sustained over time.”
I’ve heard many Utah political types say if Republicans can’t get rid of Matheson this year, with Mitt Romney and the advantages he brings, after a redistricting year that gave Republicans big gains in the state, they may never be able to defeat him. Other’s wonder if a Matheson win this year will set him up for a run at Governor or some other statewide office in 2016. Matheson says he still has work to do in Washington.
“I’m as motivated as I’ve ever been. The issues that the two political parties have kicked the can down the road on over the past few years cannot continue in that dynamic. The big decisions and tough decisions are gonna have to be made. I’m the kind of person who should be engaged in that process because I’m thoughtful and constructive and not driven by some blind allegiance to party or ideology.”
Here’s an interesting figure. If Mitt Romney loses this year, Republicans will have won a majority of votes in a national election just once in the past 25 years.
If Barack Obama wins another term, the Democrats will be on a streak similar to what the Republicans pulled off from 1968 to 1992 when they won 5 of 6 national elections - and yes, I’m aware George W. Bush won the White House in 2000, but he lost the popular vote to Al Gore.
Inside little league football:
The Jordan Mity Mites Maroon team notched their second straight shutout by walloping the Alta Grey 33-0.
The win moves them to 6-0 on the season where they have outscored their opponents 201-21.
“Anyone who is capable of getting themselves made President should on no account be allowed to do the job.” ~ Douglas Adams, The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy