Democratic U.S. Rep. Jim Matheson of Utah will not run for an eighth term in Congress. His withdrawal opens the door for Saratoga Springs Mayor Mia Love. If she wins in 2014, she would be the first black, female Republican elected to Congress.
Democratic U.S. Rep. Jim Matheson of Utah will not run for an eighth term in Congress next year, the congressman announced Tuesday.
Matheson was expected to face a tough repeat challenge in 2014 from Saratoga Springs Mayor Mia Love, a Republican who he narrowly defeated in 2012.
Matheson announced the news in a Facebook posting and subsequent statement from his office Tuesday afternoon.
"When I launched my first campaign in 1999, I knew that the arc of my public service would have many chapters. It has been a tremendous privilege to serve the people of Utah during my time in the United States House of Representatives, but my time in the House should not be the sum total of my service. Today, I am announcing that I will not seek reelection to the House of Representatives," he wrote on Facebook.
The 53-year-old represents Utah's 4th congressional seat, which covers a string of Salt Lake City suburbs stretching south along the Wasatch Front to Sanpete County.
Matheson is the only Democratic member of Utah's congressional delegation.
The 53-year-old first ran for Congress in 1999 and has managed to hold onto the seat for seven terms in a state where Republicans dominate politics and hold most elected offices.
He is the son of popular former Utah Gov. Scott Matheson, the state's last Democratic governor, who served in 1985.
The rematch between Matheson and Love was expected to be the state's most competitive contest in 2014.
Their 2012 battle was the most expensive in Utah history, with both candidates and outside political groups spending a combined $11.2 million.
Six months after her loss, Love announced she was giving it another shot. Her fundraising has outpaced Matheson's in recent months, according to her most recent campaign reports filed in October.
She brought in more than $590,000 from July through September, while Matheson collected only $278,000. But Love has also been spending fiercely, shelling out more than $376,000 in that same three-month period.
Matheson, on the other hand, spent just over $60,000.
Love's campaign manager Dave Hansen said the campaign would issue a statement later Tuesday. If Love wins next year, the 38-year-old would be the first black, female Republican elected to Congress.
Associated Press writer Brady McCombs contributed to this report.
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