Matheson’s Retirement Moves Utah’s 4th District to Safe for Republicans

by Nathan L. Gonzales December 17, 2013 · 3:40 PM EST

Rep. Jim Matheson’s retirement means the Democratic hold on Utah’s 4th District is all but over. Matheson represented the most Republican district held by a Democrat in the House. Now that he’s gone, his party will be hard-pressed to replace him.

The presidential numbers are dismal for Democrats at the presidential level. Mitt Romney carried the 4th District, 67 percent to 30 percent, in 2012. John McCain won it 56 percent to 40 percent in 2008. And President George W. Bush won it with 66 percent to 31 percent in 2004.

But one of the most alarming results was last year’s congressional election. Matheson, who has been elected to Congress seven times and is widely-regarded as running one of the best campaign operations, narrowly won re-election in 2012. The congressman defeated Saratoga Springs Mayor Mia Love, 48.8 percent to 48.5 percent, a margin of 768 votes.

It’s simply very hard to imagine Democrats finding a magical candidate who can replicate Matheson’s success in what could be a worse political environment for President Barack Obama’s party. We’re moving Utah’s 4th District from Pure Toss-Up to Safe for Republicans according to Rothenberg Political Report/Roll Call.

That being said, there is no guarantee that Love will be the nominee ni 2014. She is running again, and is running a revamped campaign, but it’s hard to believe that other Republicans won’t take another look now that Matheson is gone. Love successfully navigated the party convention process the first time and may need to do so again. Stay tuned.