announced his retirement last year. Returning after a narrow loss against Matheson in 2012, Republican Mia Love is the current frontrunner in the race. With only 3 months until the nominating convention, one primary challenger, and the absence of any serious Democratic competitors, the seat is likely Mia Love's for the taking.
The news has perplexed Democrats and even shocked the Mia Love campaign. Reasons for the withdrawal may include Representative Matheson being redistricted from the second district to the more heavily Republican fourth district, his narrow loss to Mia Love in 2012, or the constant danger his seat has been in since he won office in the 2000 elections.
Matheson took his seat in the heavily Republican second district in 2001, maintaining it for over 12 years despite numerous challengers. The 2010 census would result in the creation of a fourth district in Utah, which was previously composed of 3 districts. His victories are mostly attributed to his membership of the Blue Dog Coalition, a group of Democratic House members who are fiscally conservative.
It's this unique brand that also makes it nearly impossible for Democrats to maintain the district after his retirement, as Democrats currently lack a candidate who can emulate the success Matheson had.Such news is likely good for Mia Love, a former mayor of Saratoga Springs and a rising star in the GOP. Losing to Matheson by a mere 768 votes in the 2012 elections after raising over double the amount of money Matheson raised, she decided to run again early in 2013 before his announcement.
The only challenger for the Republican nomination is Bob Fuehr, a businessman, who previously served as the director of the Business and Economic Development of Utah. A self-described "Reagan Republican," Fuehr has run as a problem solver interested in ending Washington gridlock.
Having previously run in 2012 for UT-2, he was able to get through one round of voting before being knocked out of the race and thus failed to garner the GOP nomination. Campaign finance reports have Mia Love with $671,842 on hand, while Fuehr only has a measly $4,163, making it very unlikely that Fuehr can even compete with Love, let alone win.
With Mia Love running on a pro-business and limited government agenda, Democrats will likely have no districts in Utah by the end of the 2014 elections.
Photo Credit: Leah Hogsten / The Salt Lake Tribune