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Jim Matheson

Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Utah's 2nd district
Assumed office 
January 3, 2001
Preceded by Merrill Cook

Born March 21, 1960 (1960-03-21) (age 49)
Salt Lake City, Utah
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Amy Matheson
Residence Salt Lake City, Utah
Alma mater Harvard University, UCLA
Occupation energy consultant
Religion The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

James David "Jim" Matheson (born March 21, 1960) is a member of the United States House of Representatives, representing Utah's 2nd congressional district (map), which includes the state's sole progressive base in Salt Lake City. He is a Democrat, and the only member of his party currently representing Utah at the federal level.


Early life and career

Matheson was born in Salt Lake City, Utah, and obtained a bachelor's degree from Harvard University and his M.B.A from the University of California, Los Angeles.[1] His father, Scott M. Matheson, served as Governor of Utah from 1977 to 1985,[2] and his brother, Scott Matheson Jr., was the 2004 Democratic nominee for Governor.[3] Matheson is also a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.[4]

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.

Political career

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[citation needed]. 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 significantly altered Matheson's district. The old 2nd had been located entirely in Salt Lake County since the 1980s round of redistricting; Salt Lake County has historically favored Democrats more 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 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. Matheson was thought to face difficult odds for reelection, even though his family has roots in southern Utah. As expected, the 2002 race was very close. Matheson defeated State Representative John Swallow by only 1,600 votes, largely due to the 25,800 votes over Swallow in Salt Lake County[citation needed].

According to at least one study, some extra financial help from the Republican Party might have helped Swallow defeat Matheson[citation needed].

In 2004 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). In 2006, he defeated State Representative LaVar Christensen by 22 points. Matheson defeated Republican challenger Bill Dew in the 2008 general election by 28 points.

Like most Utah Democrats, Matheson is relatively conservative by national party standards,[5] however more liberal than perceived, scoring only 36 for The American Conservative Union Ratings for 2008. Rob Bishop scored 100 and Bob Bennett scored 64.[6]

Matheson is co-chairman of the Blue Dog Coalition,[7] a conservative group of 52 Democrats in the House. He also is a member of the New Democrat Coalition.

Among other significant votes, Matheson voted against raising the federal debt limit; as well as against both Republican and Democratic budgets that do not reduce the deficit. Matheson, a former energy industry businessman, voted against authorizing the construction of new oil refineries. 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.

In November 2009, Matheson also voted against the Affordable Health Care for America Act. [8] On March 3, 2010, President Barack Obama nominated his brother, Scott Matheson Jr., to the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit, sparking accusations from the right that Obama was attempting to purchase Matheson's vote on the House version of the bill,[9]. Matheson is now claims to be undecided on the bill. [10]

Committee assignments

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

Electoral history

Utah's 2nd congressional district: Results 2000–2008[11]
Year Democrat Votes Pct Republican Votes Pct 3rd Party Party Votes Pct 3rd Party Party Votes Pct
2000 Jim Matheson 145,021 56% Derek W. Smith 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% Jeremy P. Petersen Constitution 3,541 1% Patrick Diehl Green 2,189 1% *
2006 Jim Matheson 133,231 59% LaVar Christensen 84,234 37% W. David Perry Constitution 3,395 2% Bob Brister Green 3,338 1% *
2008 Jim Matheson 204,268 63% Bill Dew 111,696 35% Dennis Ray Emery Constitution 2,731 1% Mathew Arndt Libertarian 4,171 1% *
*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. ^ "Congressman Jim Matheson — Biography". Retrieved 2006-11-09. 
  2. ^ John McCormick. "Scott M. Matheson". Utah History Encyclopedia. University of Utah Press. Retrieved 2006-11-09. 
  3. ^ Bob Bernick Jr. (2004-11-04). "Only a few Democrats were able to survive Utah's GOP 'sweep'". Deseret Morning News.,1249,595102960,00.html. Retrieved 2006-11-09. 
  4. ^ Jerry Spangler (2005-01-31). "Mormon Democrats link up in Congress". Deseret Morning News.,1249,600108572,00.html. Retrieved 2006-11-09. 
  5. ^ Bob Bernick Jr. (2006-08-31). "Matheson far enough to the right for Utahns". Deseret Morning News.,1249,645195985,00.html. Retrieved 2006-11-09. 
  6. ^ "2008 Votes by State Delegation". The American Conservative Union. Retrieved 2009-07-27. 
  7. ^ Bob Bernick Jr. (2006-10-29). "Frugal Matheson walks to own beat". Deseret Morning News.,1249,650202661,00.html. Retrieved 2006-11-09. 
  8. ^
  9. ^
  10. ^
  11. ^ "Election Statistics". Office of the Clerk of the House of Representatives. Retrieved 2008-01-10. 

External links

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

2001 – present


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