Matheson votes against Pelosi as new Congress picks leaders
Politics • Utah Dem instead backs John Dingell of Michigan.
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Washington • Rep. Jim Matheson was among a handful of Democrats who refused to back party leader Nancy Pelosi on Thursday as the new Congress picked the speaker of the House.

Matheson, instead, voted for Rep. John Dingell, D-Mich., a friend and the longest currently serving member of Congress.

His protest vote had little significance, since Republicans hold a majority of the seats, and they overwhelmingly supported Speaker John Boehner, who sought another two years at the helm of the House. Utah's three Republican House members — Rob Bishop, Jason Chaffetz and the newly sworn-in Chris Stewart — supported Boehner.

Matheson voted against Pelosi in 2010 and again on Thursday because he believes she is too polarizing and has marginalized more moderate members like himself.

He suggested Dingell would be more willing to work with Democrats across the spectrum. "I believe we need more people like Mr. Dingell in leadership in order to end the gridlock and partisan bickering that is so frustrating and disappointing to me and to the public," Matheson said.

Despite the vote against Pelosi, Matheson remains part of the Democratic whip team, a leadership position in which he tallies votes on behalf of House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer.

mcanham@sltrib.com