Jim Matheson
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Jim Matheson

Jim Matheson
Member of the
U.S. House of Representatives
from Utah

January 3, 2001 - January 3, 2015
Merrill Cook
Mia Love
Constituency2nd district (2001-2013)
4th district (2013-2015)
Personal details
James David Matheson

(1960-03-21) March 21, 1960 (age 60)
Salt Lake City, Utah, U.S.
Political partyDemocratic
ParentsScott M. Matheson
Norma Warenski
RelativesScott Matheson Jr. (brother)
EducationHarvard University (BA)
University of California, Los Angeles (MBA)

James David Matheson (born March 21, 1960) is an American politician who served as a United States Representative from Utah from 2001 to 2015. He represented Utah's 2nd district from 2001 to 2013 and its 4th district from 2013 to 2015 as a member of the Democratic Party. While in office, he was Utah's only Democratic congressman, and his district was one of the most Republican-leaning districts to be represented by a Democrat.[1]

On December 17, 2013, Matheson announced he would not seek reelection in the 2014 elections.[2] There was speculation that Matheson, a moderate Democrat, might run in 2016 for Governor of Utah or for the Utah U.S. Senate seat coming open then, but this did not happen.[3] In 2015, he joined the law firm of Squire Patton Boggs as a lobbyist.[4] On June 13, 2016 he was named the CEO of National Rural Electric Cooperative Association, a trade organization for rural electric cooperatives,[5] and on July 19, 2019, he succeeded fellow former Representative Jo Ann Emerson as CEO.[6]

Early life, education and career

Matheson and his family, November 2012

Matheson was born in Salt Lake City, Utah, and obtained an A.B. from Harvard College and his M.B.A. from the UCLA Anderson School of Management.[7] His father, Scott M. Matheson, served as governor of Utah from 1977 to 1985,[8] his mother, Norma Matheson, served as First Lady of Utah and a prominent figure in the state Democratic Party, and his brother, Scott Matheson, Jr., was the 2004 Democratic nominee for Governor.[9] Matheson is a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.[10]

Prior to entering politics, Matheson worked in the energy field, working for several different companies and studying environmental policy. He later started his own energy consulting firm.

His wife, Amy, is a pediatrician and they have two sons, William and Harris.[11]

He joined a group that was in favor of increased compensation for people who were affected by the radiation from Cold War atomic testing. The radioactive fallout from nuclear tests caused the cancer that killed Matheson's father.[12]

U.S. House of Representatives

Matheson was co-chairman of the Blue Dog Coalition,[13] a conservative group of 25 Democrats in the House. He was also a member of the New Democrat Coalition. During his congressional tenure, he was the only Democrat in Utah's Congressional Delegation.

During his time in Congress, Matheson was relatively conservative by national party standards.[14] In the National Journal ratings in 2010, Matheson was more conservative than 51% of his colleagues, but more liberal than 49%, making him one of the most conservative Democrats, yet a centrist overall. On November 3[clarification needed], Matheson voted against requiring public disclosure of bonuses and golden parachute arrangements (agreements between a company and an employee specifying that the employee will receive significant benefits if they are terminated). This was a bill that the Democrats heavily supported and the Republicans opposed; only five other Democrats voted against the bill.

Foreign policy and terrorism

In March 2007, Matheson was one of 14 Democrats who voted against a bill that would require President George W. Bush to bring combat troops home from Iraq by September 1, 2008.[] Matheson regularly voted in favor of the wars in the Middle East, having voted for the 2003 Iraq invasion and opposing the bill to remove troops from Libya in 2011 and Pakistan in 2010. He did, however, vote in favor of requiring a time-table for withdrawal from Afghanistan, after opposing the bill in two previous votes.

In 2011, Matheson voted to extend expiring provisions of the PATRIOT Act[15] and voted in favor of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2012.[16]


Matheson leans anti-abortion but supports expanding federal funding for embryonic stem cell research. He was rated 55% from National Right to Life Committee indicating a mixed record on abortion and 30% from NARAL indicating a pro-life voting record.[] However, Matheson's NARAL Pro-Choice America rating dropped to 0% in 2010, while he garnered a 50% rating from the National Right to Life Committee.[17]

Debt and economy

Matheson voted against raising the federal debt limit, as well as against both Republican and Democratic budgets that did not reduce the deficit.[] Matheson, a former energy industry businessman, voted against authorizing the construction of new oil refineries.[]

Matheson was a strong supporter of Wall Street regulation, voting in favor of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, the strongest set of Wall Street reforms since the 1930s. In a comment on this legislation, Matheson stated, "Nearly two years ago the subprime mortgage meltdown triggered the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression. We've been living under the same set of rules that were in place before the financial crisis sparked the job-killing recession. Now, that is about to change."[18]

In July 2011, Matheson was one of five Democrats to vote for the Cut, Cap and Balance Act.[19]

In January 2013, Matheson was one of sixteen Democrats that voted against the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012,[20] which was the last minute solution to the U.S. fiscal cliff. Matheson released a statement saying that "to address the fiscal cliff, legislation must include a strong framework for real deficit reduction. Sadly, this bill falls short."[21]


Matheson is also opposed to the No Child Left Behind Act, believing that education is a local issue and federal funds should come with minimal strings attached. Matheson also believes that the "Highly Qualified Teacher" requirements should be more flexible, and that states should have alternative options to the single standardized test used in No Child Left Behind.[22]


In November 2009, during intense debates over American health care reform, Matheson voted against the Affordable Health Care for America Act.[23] When President Obama named Matheson's brother Scott M. Matheson to the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit at a time where he needed Matheson's vote for the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, The Weekly Standard posted an article that said "Barack Obama will host ten House Democrats who voted against the health care bill in November at the White House; he's obviously trying to persuade them to switch their vote to yes. One of the ten is Jim Matheson of Utah."[24] They suggested that the White House was using this timely nomination to influence Matheson's vote. Matheson responded by saying that he is very happy for his brother and that "the federal 10th Circuit Court will gain a judge devoted to judicial integrity, fairness and knowledge of the law."[25] In March 2010, he was one of 34 Democrats to vote against the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, which passed the House 219-212.[26] However, when the 112th Congress reconsidered the legislation in January 2011, Matheson voted against repealing the healthcare overhaul.[27]

Video games

On January 15, 2013 during the 113th Congress Matheson introduced a bill called H.R. 287 or The "Video Games Ratings Enforcement Act" that if passed no video game can be sold on a public market without an official rating from the ESRB. Matheson introduced this bill in light of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting.[28][needs update]

Committee assignments

Congressman Matheson sat on these committees and subcommittees in the 111th Congress:

Caucus memberships

  • Congressional Arts Caucus
  • Congressional Cement Caucus, Co-Chair

Political campaigns


In 2000, Matheson was tapped to run for the 2nd district seat. The Democrats were optimistic in part because the 2nd district has historically been friendlier to Democrats than the rest of Utah and in part because two-term incumbent Merrill Cook had a reputation for erratic behavior.[29] The prospect of losing the seat frightened district Republicans enough that Cook was unseated in the primary by computer executive Derek Smith. However, Matheson defeated Smith comfortably, taking 56 percent of the vote even as George W. Bush won the district with 57% of the vote.


During the 2000s round of redistricting, the Republican-controlled state legislature made the 2nd significantly more Republican than its predecessor. The old 2nd had been located entirely in Salt Lake County since the 1980s round of redistricting; Salt Lake County has historically been friendlier to Democrats (at least at the state and local level) than the rest of Utah. The legislature drew all or part of 14 mostly rural counties in eastern and southern Utah into the 2nd. They were only connected to Salt Lake City by a narrow band of territory in heavily Republican Utah County. In addition, the legislature shifted most of western Salt Lake City to the 1st, leaving the more conservative eastern part of the city in the 2nd. The new district was approximately six points more Republican than its predecessor.

Ultimately, Matheson defeated State Representative John Swallow by only 1,600 votes, largely due to a 25,800-vote margin over Swallow in Salt Lake County.[30] According to at least one study, some extra financial help from the Republican Party might have helped Swallow defeat Matheson. However, national Republicans stayed out of the race after state legislators claimed they had drawn a district that no Democrat could possibly win.[31]


Matheson defeated Swallow again--this time by a 12-point margin even as Bush won the state by a large margin (and carried the district with 67 percent of the vote).


Matheson defeated State Representative LaVar Christensen by 22 points.


Matheson defeated Republican challenger Bill Dew in the 2008 general election by 28 percent.


Matheson defeated Republican nominee Morgan Philpot. In May, Matheson faced his first challenge from within his party. Claudia Wright claimed that Jim Matheson was not liberal enough and obtained 45% of the vote at the Democratic State Convention, forcing a primary for the Democratic nomination. After weeks of campaigning Matheson secured the Democratic nomination, by obtaining 67.5% of the vote.


Matheson had said he was considering a run for statewide office in 2012, particularly if his seat was substantially changed in redistricting.[32] Polling conducted in July 2011 showed Matheson leading incumbent Republican Senator Orrin Hatch in a possible 2012 Senate race.[33]

On December 15, 2011, Matheson announced that he would run for the newly created seat in the 4th congressional district, meaning there would be an open-seat race for the 2nd district. The 2nd district race was not expected to be competitive for Democrats. In a three-way race between Matheson, Mia Love (Republican) and Jim Vein (Libertarian), Matheson beat Love by 768 votes. In the race, Vein garnered 6,439 votes.[34]

Electoral history

Note: Totals may not equal 100.0 percent due to rounding.

Utah's 2nd congressional district: Results 2000-2010[35]
Year Democrat Votes Pct Republican Votes Pct 3rd Party Party Votes Pct 3rd Party Party Votes Pct
2000 145,021 56% 107,114 41% Bruce Bangerter Independent American 4,704 2% Peter Pixton Libertarian 2,165 1% *
2002 Jim Matheson 110,764 49% John Swallow 109,123 49% Patrick Diehl Green 2,589 1% Ron Copier Libertarian 1,622 1%
2004 Jim Matheson 187,250 55% John Swallow 147,778 43% Petersen Constitution 3,541 1% Patrick Diehl Green 2,189 1% *
2006 Jim Matheson 133,231 59% 84,234 37% W. David Perry Constitution 3,395 2% Bob Brister Green 3,338 1% *
2008 Jim Matheson 204,268 63% 111,696 35% Dennis Ray Emery Constitution 2,731 1% Mathew Arndt Libertarian 4,171 1% *
2010 116,404 50.67% 105,514 45.98% Constitution 4,122 1.79% David Glissmeyer Independent 2,143 0.93% *
Utah's 4th congressional district: Results 2012-[35]
2012 119,803 48.8% 119,035 48.5% Libertarian 6,439 2.6%
*Write-in and minor candidate notes: In 2000, Steven Alberts Voris received 597 votes. In 2004, Personal Choice Party candidate Ronald R. Amos received 1,210 votes. In 2006, Libertarian Party candidate Austin Sherwood Lett received 1,620 votes.


  1. ^ "Introducing The Cook Political Report Partisan Voting Index (PVI) for the 111th Congress".
  2. ^ Livingston, Abby (December 17, 2013). "Democrat Jim Matheson Announces Retirement". Roll Call.
  3. ^ "Matheson's legacy: A Democrat who can win over Republicans". The Salt Lake Tribune. December 21, 2014. Retrieved 2014.
  4. ^ Wilson, Megan R. (January 20, 2015). "Former Rep. Matheson joins K Street firm". The Hill. Retrieved 2015.
  5. ^ "NRECA Names Former U.S. Rep. Jim Matheson New CEO" (Press release). NRECA. June 13, 2016.
  6. ^ "Jim Matheson Starts as NRECA CEO" (Press release). NRECA. July 19, 2016.
  7. ^ "Congressman Jim Matheson - Biography". Archived from the original on November 4, 2006. Retrieved 2006.
  8. ^ McCormick, John (1994), "Matheson, Scott M.", in Powell, Allan Kent (ed.), Utah History Encyclopedia, Salt Lake City, Utah: University of Utah Press, ISBN 0874804256, OCLC 30473917
  9. ^ Bob Bernick Jr. (November 4, 2004). "Only a few Democrats were able to survive Utah's GOP 'sweep'". Deseret Morning News. Retrieved 2006.
  10. ^ Jerry Spangler (January 31, 2005). "Mormon Democrats link up in Congress". Deseret Morning News. Retrieved 2006.
  11. ^ "Town hall info". Town hall. Archived from the original on January 25, 2012.
  12. ^ "NJ bio". National Journal.
  13. ^ Bob Bernick Jr. (October 29, 2006). "Frugal Matheson walks to own beat". Deseret Morning News. Retrieved 2006.
  14. ^ Bob Bernick Jr. (August 31, 2006). "Matheson far enough to the right for Utahns". Deseret Morning News. Retrieved 2006.
  15. ^ http://clerk.house.gov/evs/2011/roll036.xml
  16. ^ "HR 1540 National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012 - Voting Record". Project Vote Smart. Retrieved 2012.
  17. ^ "Representative James 'Jim' David Matheson: Abortion Issues". Project Vote Smart. Retrieved 2011.
  18. ^ "Matheson supports Wall Street reforms". Congressman Jim Matheson official website. June 30, 2010. Archived from the original on April 15, 2012. Retrieved 2011.
  19. ^ Berman, Russell (July 19, 2011). "Five Blue Dogs join GOP in vote for 'cut, cap and balance' bill". The Hill. Retrieved 2011.
  20. ^ "H.R. 8 (112th): American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 -- House Vote #659 -- Jan 1, 2013". GovTrack.us.
  21. ^ Matheson statement on vote on 'fiscal cliff' measure, archived from the original on January 4, 2013
  22. ^ "Education". Congressman Jim Matheson official website. Archived from the original on December 26, 2011. Retrieved 2011.
  23. ^ "Final Vote Results for Roll Call 398". United States House of Representatives. October 24, 2001. Retrieved 2010.[failed verification]
  24. ^ "Obama Now Selling Judgeships for Healthcare Votes?". The Weekly Standard.
  25. ^ "Jim Matheson & the Obama Administration's Record of Using Nominations for Political Gain". The Weekly Standard.
  26. ^ "Health care reform: How House members voted". CNN. March 2010. Retrieved 2010.
  27. ^ "Repeal health-care overhaul". The Washington Post.
  28. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on October 2, 2013. Retrieved 2013.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  29. ^ "Smith upsets incumbent Cook". USA Today. June 28, 2000.
  30. ^ "Election 2002 - County Results: Utah House 02". CNN. Retrieved 2010.
  31. ^ https://web.archive.org/web/20080909235944/http://csed.byu.edu/Assets/Pew/2002%20Monograph.pdf
  32. ^ Lisa Riley Roche (June 9, 2011). "Two Utah Political Heavyweights Eyeing Key Races". Deseret News. Retrieved 2011.
  33. ^ Lisa Riley Roche (June 18, 2011). "Poll: Time for Senator Hatch To Go". Deseret News. Retrieved 2011.
  34. ^ Romboy, Dennis (November 6, 2012). "Jim Matheson claims victory over Mia Love in very close 4th District race". DeseretNews.com.
  35. ^ a b "Election Statistics". Office of the Clerk of the House of Representatives. Missing or empty |url= (help)

External links

U.S. House of Representatives
Preceded by
Merrill Cook
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Utah's 2nd congressional district

Succeeded by
Chris Stewart
New constituency Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Utah's 4th congressional district

Succeeded by
Mia Love
Party political offices
Preceded by
Jim Turner
Chair of the Blue Dog Coalition for Administration
Served alongside: Dennis Cardoza (Communications), Jim Cooper (Policy)
Succeeded by
Allen Boyd
Preceded by
Charlie Melancon
Chair of the Blue Dog Coalition for Communications
Served alongside: Stephanie Herseth Sandlin (Administration), Baron Hill (Policy)
Succeeded by
Mike Ross

  This article uses material from the Wikipedia page available here. It is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.



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