SALT LAKE CITY -- Rep. Jim Matheson, D-Utah, held on to his political career Tuesday, just barely.
Just after midnight the final results were posted, giving Matheson the win by 2,818 votes.
Matheson moves on to become the first member to ever represent Utah in its new Fourth Congressional District, a district he does not live in. This will be his seventh term in the U.S. House. He previously represented Utah in the 2nd Congressional district, but switched to the 4th because he felt it was better fit for him to win.
“I want to tell you something, I have had a remarkable journey,” said Matheson in his victory speech. “I am proud to have been a leader in getting things done.”
He certainly got things done pulling out victory. The race between Matheson and Saratoga Springs Mayor Mia Love has been the hottest race in the state for weeks. Millions of dollars have fueled both sides of the campaigns with attack ads, mailers and robo-calls.
Both sides claimed they were hit harder in the ads than the other. The general public probably can claim they were hit the hardest though, having to endure the ads for a race that had nothing to do with the majority of the citizens in the state.
Love held back tears in her concession speech. She thanked her family and her supporters for their support and said she would work with Matheson in her responsibilities as Saratoga Springs Mayor.
“This has been a long hard battle,” she said. “I don’t regret one thing.”
Matheson has served in the House since January 2001. He has been a thorn in Republicans’ side ever since as they have attempted every two years to win back one of the most Republican-leaning seats held by a Democrat in the nation.
Matheson is the co-chairman of the Blue Dog Coalition, a group of 25 conservative-leaning Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives. He has in the past, and in this election, stated he looks to serve the state of Utah and not a specific party when he works in Washington. Matheson was one of five Democrats in the House to vote in favor of Rep. Jason Chaffetz's, R-Utah, Cut, Cap, and Balance legislation, which looked to put in a balanced budget amendment and make significant cuts to the nation's budget.
Love has criticized Matheson for his support for the Affordable Care Act, better known as Obamacare. Matheson did not actually vote for the Affordable Care Act when it was considered in the House. He did once vote against repealing the major health care law.
Love’s loss is a blow to the state Republican party and the national GOP party who both put in endless amounts of money and man hours to try to knock off Matheson.
Love started early plans for her campaign in the summer of 2011. Love flew to Washington to meet with Republican leaders to gain their support. Those trips paid off during her campaign as she received visits from GOP vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan, Speaker of the House John Boehner, R-Ohio, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Virginia, and Condoleezza Rice during her campaign. The big star Republicans didn’t show up for her, though, until after she secured the nomination at the state Republican Convention in May.
Love’s victory at the convention was unexpected. She was up against a well-known former state legislator, Carl Wimmer, who seemed to have good support from the Republican establishment and a district that fit his name recognition well. After one round of balloting, Love and Wimmer were the two candidates left for the delegates to choose from. A Wimmer supporter, Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff, stood before the Republican delegates - and in an attempt to rally the crowd behind Wimmer - he called Love a novelty. He later apologized for the remark and Love won at the convention by netting 70 percent of the vote, crushing Wimmer and propelling herself into being a national name for the Republican party.
Love was called on by the Mitt Romney campaign to speak at the Republican National Convention in August. Love spoke early in the evening on the first day of meetings at the convention. She spoke for about four minutes on the American Dream and her support of Mitt Romney. Utah Republicans praised her for a great performance at the convention.
Final Count: Matheson: 108,075 Love: 105,257