Five-term Congressman Jim Matheson has announced that he'll relinquish his Congressional seat following the 2014 midterm elections, likely paving the way for a GOP pick-up. The Utah Democrat made his decision public via his Facebook page:
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. Public service has been integral to my life for as long as I can remember. I was raised to value the honor in public service and the responsibility of holding the public trust. My time in Congress has only strengthened these beliefs...
Matheson was one of 34 House Democrats who voted against Obamacare in 2010, and he's labored mightily to distance himself from his party on the issue, evidently to no avail. Phil Klein sums up the resulting take-away nicely:
Get ready to start writing "Rep. Mia Love, R-Utah" https://t.co/yyPx9hKf0h— Philip Klein (@philipaklein) December 17, 2013
Mia Love formally announced her intention to challenge Matheson in May, and has been actively running for the seat ever since. Now that the well-financed incumbent with universal name recognition is stepping aside, this vacancy in crimson Utah will likely vault to the very top of the NRCC's target list. Love burst onto the scene at the 2012 Republican National Convention, where she delivered a short, energetic speech:
In other retirement news, veteran GOP Congressman Frank Wolf (R-VA) also revealed plans to leave his seat after 2014, handing Democrats a pick-up opportunity. Wolf has been re-elected comfortably for many cycles in his increasingly-purple Northern Virginia district -- which Republicans Mitt Romney and Ken Cuccinelli each carried by just one point in 2012 and 2013, respectively.
UPDATE - "Likely Republican:"
RT @kkondik: CRYSTAL BALL RATINGS CHANGE: UT-4 moves from Leans Democratic to LIKELY REPUBLICAN after Rep. Jim Matheson (D) retires— Larry Sabato (@LarrySabato) December 17, 2013
This is an R+14 district, where Matheson narrowly hung on against Love last fall.