This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2011, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
Republicans are giddy that a fourth Blue Dog Democrat in the House is heading toward the exit allowing them to focus more of their firepower on top 2012 targets like Utah Rep. Jim Matheson.Rep. Mike Ross, the only Democrat in Arkansas' House delegation, announced Monday that he won't seek another term, though he may run for governor in 2014. Earlier this year, Rep. Dan Boren, D-Okla., said he would retire, Rep. Joe Donnelly, D-Ind., decided to run for a Senate seat and Rep. Jane Harman, D-Calif., resigned to lead the Woodrow Wilson Center.This comes after a disastrous 2010 election for Blue Dogs, where their ranks dropped from the high 50s to the mid 20s. And with Boren, Donnelly and Ross leaving in 2012, that would mean the caucus only has 22 members.Matheson, who heads the Blue Dogs' political action committee, may drop that number to 21. He has said the only guarantee about his political future is that his name will appear on the 2012 ballot, but he won't say for what office. He may run for a seventh term in the House or try a run at governor or the Senate, much of his decision depends on how state lawmakers redraw his congressional district in the redistricting process. Recent polling says he would be competitive in a race against Gov. Gary Herbert (see data here) or Sen. Orrin Hatch (and here).Matheson's staying power has irritated the GOP. He holds the most Republican district of any Democrat and is one of the top three targets of the National Republican Congressional Committee.
"With a difficult re-election bid on the horizon, Jim Matheson must decide whether to embrace his party's failed record or pitch in the towel like his fellow Blue Dogs," said NRCC spokesman Tyler Houlton. Matt CanhamTwitter.com/mattcanham