Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
February 11, 2016

Mia Love Is Clear Front-Runner for Matheson Seat

Love is running for Congress for a second time. (Chris Maddaloni CQ/Roll Call File Photo)

For an ambitious Republican, there is no more attractive House seat than that of retiring Rep. Jim Matheson, D-Utah — but the congressman’s former foe could be strong enough to hold off a run on the seat.

Matheson’s retirement announcement Tuesday turned a top GOP pickup opportunity into a seat for which national Democrats may not compete for the foreseeable future. No names of potential candidates emerged in the immediate aftermath, but anyone jumping in now would face a truncated timeline and a challenging race for the GOP nomination ahead.

Saratoga Springs Mayor Mia Love, who lost to Matheson by 768 votes in 2012, got a jump on the GOP competition by kicking off her campaign early this cycle. With the state’s top campaign operative on board and nearly $700,000 in the bank by the end of September, there is a sentiment in the state that her head start could be too much to overcome.

“I think Mia Love is too formidable right now,” said Kirk Jowers, director of the University of Utah’s Hinckley Institute of Politics. “She has the name ID, the money and now she has Dave Hansen who is about the most respected campaign manager. So if you’re taking a look at your ability to win, it’s hard to see anybody who doesn’t start out behind in all major campaign considerations.”

Love told CQ Roll Call in March that it was important to ramp up the campaign early so that she’s not starting from behind again — financially and organizationally. That was during an interview at the Conservative Political Action Conference just outside of Washington, D.C., where activists from around the country descend annually.

Still, given the heavy Republican tilt of the district and the lack of perhaps the only Democrat capable of carrying it, the list of candidates will undoubtedly grow. Love’s GOP competition currently includes just one other candidate, businessman Bob Fuehr, but some expect a much longer list of candidates to emerge.

“Well she’s been working it for a long time,” said Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah. “But it’s just a question of how many dozen candidates run.”

Utah Republicans said Love has been aggressively campaigning and fundraising, setting herself up for a strong performance at the April 26 state nominating convention. If she wins 60 percent of the locally elected delegates, Love will emerge with the nomination — as she did last cycle. Otherwise, the top two vote-getters will face off in a June 24 primary.

“I think we may have more that will enter because it’s attractive,” Utah GOP Chairman James Evans said. “But I think also they will factor in that Mia’s been in there for some time, and they may see that it’s not going to be an easy challenge.”

In a statement Tuesday, Love wished Matheson well but said her congressional campaign won’t change much as a result of his retirement. That may be true of the convention fight, but the eventual nominee will now be heavily favored in the general election. That would not have been true with Matheson in the race.

“Congressman Matheson has served our state with passion and has been a dedicated public servant during his tenure in Congress,” Love said. “His announcement today does not change my campaign to represent the people of Utah’s 4th congressional district. I wish Congressman Matheson the very best during his final year as Congressman.”

  • moderate Guy

    OK, I know you should be nice at a funeral, but Obama lackey scumbag Matheson has been anything but representing people of Utah. He was just another Demokrat creep.

  • GameTime

    Take all the seats, GOP!

  • Jeff

    If elected, she’d definitely be the hottest member of the house.

  • Benjamin Dover

    Darwin also used Adam Smith’s work on morals, conduct, and character to develop his concept of biological evolution.

  • Layla

    One down, many more to go!!!

  • chillinout.

    If he didn’t represent the people, they wouldn’t have vote for him for 6 consecutive terms.

  • Bioflare

    Who’s your favorite Republican, “Moderate guy”? Ted Cruz? Steve Stockman?

  • teapartyidiots

    They’re going to be knocking each other over to run for this one.

  • moderate Guy

    Apparently he lies good.

  • JayfromBrooklyn

    No real change here, Mia Love was going to win anyway.

  • phil

    mia love has recently lurched to the left, by murmuring words about supporting amnesty before the “legal” immigration reform as well as some part of amnesty “before” the border is secured,

    and this week she said that she would have voted for the Bohener/ryan/murray budget, which doesnt do anything to stop the Debt spiral america is in, and as bonus funds this noxious lay the un-affordable care act (obamacare), as well as stabbing our disabled vets in the back by cutting their pensions meanwhile the tax credits to the illegal aliens must be left untouched,

    all of that because she “fears” a shutdown, really Mia??? is there any budget the dems can put forward that you will say that “this” crosses a red line and and warrants a shutdown if not changed ??? and assuming such budget exists (i really doubt) isn’t this budget that stabs our vets in the back, the one worth the fight???

    there is a real opportunity for a solid challenger here, to take on the norquist funded Mia Love, who has great attraction in part because she will be the “1st” GOP Black woman in congress,

    but i don’t give up my children’s future because of optics,

  • Lizzy Smilez

    Exciting to have a dynamic Republican woman in Congress. Clearly Mia has the name recognition, organization, and money to run and win this campaign. I think this is the time that we Republicans should UNITE behind a strong candidate and win this race. Go Mia!

  • MiamiEddy

    Go Mia Go!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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