Utah Policy/KSL Insider Survey: Jim Matheson’s Political Future

Rep. Jim Matheson shocked the Utah political community by announcing he would not run for re-election in 2014. We asked our Political Insiders and readers if they thought Matheson was done with politics. 

Selected anonymous comments:

“Herbert has an 80% approval rating. Lee has a 40% approval rating. Who would you challenge?!”

“I’d say governor, but Utah already has a guy in that office who won’t propose any substantive policy, won’t stand his ground on anything remotely controversial, and claims to be one of the little people while actually having sucked off the government teat for the past two decades. So I guess a Senate run is more likely.”

“He mistakenly thinks Lee is out of touch with Utah voters, and therefore vulnerable. It’s Matheson who is out of touch.”

“He will most likely run against Mike Lee in 2016.”

“He’ll run for the Senate, but I really wish he’d run for Governor. And it’s not just that democrats in Utah have particular trouble winning elections that, of necessity, focus on national issues, which many Utahns moralize. It’s that I think he can actually do better work for the state by returning us to our core values of compassion and true equality.”

“He is so much like his father Scott Matheson that he would make a brilliant Governor. Whatever office he chooses would be a benefit to the State of Utah.”

“He could give either Herbert or Lee a run for their money, but ultimately would lose. He’s better off finishing his career on the upswing.”

“I think he will research which race he stands a better chance of winning. Hopefully, we will have someone better than Mike Lee to choose from on the Republican ticket for Senate. If not, then Matheson would be the better choice. Matheson represents Utah much better than Lee does.”

“If Count My Vote is not passed, and Mike Lee is the default GOP candidate for US Senate, Matheson would have a very realistic chance at winning the Senate seat. I don’t think he could resist such an opportunity. Matheson is much more main stream, and much more in tune with Utah voters than Lee. The Governor’s seat, however, is too steep a climb for a Democrat. Just ask his brother, Scott.”

“Pleeeease let him run for Mike Lee’s seat. As an active Republican, I would gladly vote for him just to end the misery.”

“Sen. Lee is like a honeycomb for a bunch of Grizzlies. Jim is king bear for Democrats and the only one able to win statewide.”

“He is a shrewd politician who carefully weighs every situation. He can win a statewide race now.”

“Matheson has done a great job. However, he barely squeaked by in the last two elections, with a huge portion of his district comprising the most Democrat areas of the state. His chances of winning a statewide election are slim, absent something bizarre. They should make him President of the University of Utah or something, where he can continue to be a respected speaker and leader, and will have an illustrious career. If he tries to run against Herbert or Lee, he’s pretty likely to lose, and that will tarnish his reputation somewhat.”

“Matheson’s run for the Governor’s office is the worst kept secret in Utah politics.”

“He’s going to run for Governor because it’s the obvious choice. He doesn’t have to deal with Utahns having a far-right stance on federal issues, and can use his personal popularity as a weapon to win the gubernatorial race.”

“He isn’t running for a reason…he can no longer win. His best shot is at the Senate but he would still lose to Lee.”

“I hope he runs against Becky Lockhart. She’s a lightweight and I think Matheson has some good appeal statewide. I think Republicans vote for him just as much to thumb our noses at the GOP establishment as much as for his positions on the issues.”

“Perhaps my guess that he’s running for governor is just wishful thinking. I don’t think he’s out of politics, but perhaps he’ll be looking at SLC Mayor.”

“Had Sen. Lee not ticked off rational, sane members of the GOP with his budget tantrum I would have thought a run for Governor was in order for Matheson. As a result of the budget fiasco, Sen. Lee solidified his base of 2,200 delegates and embarrassed the rest of Utah, he better pray that CMV doesn’t pass or he will see a quick departure from office. Matheson runs for Senate against the GOP nominee of Wright, or Romney.”

“My guess is that he will want to replace Mike Lee with someone more moderate – namely himself. The Democrats will jump at the chance to have even a nominal Democrat in the Senate.”