Since the U.S. House of Representatives voted last week to pass a continuing resolution with an amendment to defund the Affordable Healthcare Act (also known as Obamacare), the Federal government has been in a state of shutdown, with only a handful of so-called “essential” operations still functioning. Many members of Congress are facing ire from their constituents based on their vote or their inability to bring a resolution to the week-long shutdown.
One of those facing some kickback is Utah’s Representative Jim Matheson (Democrat – District 4), who was one of only two Democrats who voted with House Republicans to pass the continuing resolution that led to the government shutdown.
Since then a Facebook Group called “Democrats Done With Jim Matheson” has launched, and has a following of nearly 200 people as of this writing. The group’s founder is Guy Warner, former chair of the Young Democrats of Utah, who calls himself a “former supporter” of Matheson. According to Warner, Matheson has abandoned his 2010 Utah Democratic Convention promises. “It seems the more he’s going on with his career, the less he’s not trying to excuse himself. Now he’s just playing both sides, being a career politician.”
Warner, who lives in Utah’s 2nd Congressional District—the seat formerly held by Congressman Matheson before he moved to the 4th District following the 2011 redistricting, says he doesn’t have anyone he’s supporting to replace Matheson at the moment, but says the congressman is “siphoning resources that could be used to further progress down the ticket.”
Representative Matheson is currently working with 18 other members of the House on a bipartisan solution to resolve the shutdown that began October 1, hoping to bring Congress out of the quagmire of the shutdown. The expected plan would give Congress six months to fund the Federal government at the current sequester-levels, with an additional cut to the Affordable Care Act’s medical device tax.
In an interview with UPC last Friday, Matheson responded to the criticism of his decision to vote with Republicans on the Continuing Resolution. “It’s no secret that I’m not a fan of the Affordable Healthcare Act,” said Matheson. He added that he doesn’t get to vote on GOP strategy, he only gets to vote on the bills put in front of him. Matheson also says that he’s not concerned about an inter-Party challenge for his seat. “My only concern is representing the people of in my district.”
In 2010, Matheson faced a heated internal challenge from Democrat, Claudia Wright. Wright secured 45 percent of the vote of Democratic delegates at the state convention, forcing Matheson into a primary challenge among the general public—a contest Matheson easily won, securing more than two out of every three votes. In 2012, Matheson faced his toughest Republican challenger to date, defeating Saratoga Springs Mayor Mia Love by only 768 votes. Love has announced plans to challenge Matheson again in 2014, and has hired Senator Orrin Hatch’s former campaign manager, Dave Hansen, to manage her race.