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Rolly: Republicans open fire on Matheson

Published July 12, 2013 4:37 pm

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

The next general election is still 16 months away, but the National Republican Congressional Committee is in overdrive in its condemnation of Rep. Jim Matheson, Utah's lone Democrat in the six-member Utah delegation who the NRCC has been trying to defeat for 12 years.

Whoever is in charge of the Matheson beat at the NRCC seems to be on steroids the way press releases are churned out from Washington, D.C., accusing the seven-term congressman of anything short of the Lindburgh baby kidnapping or the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr.

In the past few weeks, the NRCC has issued press releases with the headlines: "More IRS Corruption: Will Jim Matheson stand up to the Agency's Reckless spending?"; "Will Jim Matheson Condemn His Fellow Democrat's Despicable Comments?"; "It's Electric! Line Dancing Videos and Lavish Conferences Among IRS Waste – Will Jim Matheson Condemn It?"; "Will Jim Matheson Stand With Those Who Wish To Sweep IRS Scandal Under The Rug?"; "Thanks to Jim Matheson, Student Loan Rates Have Now Doubled"; and "Will Jim Matheson Support High Energy Costs?"

The handouts go on to criticize Matheson for not condemning wild spending by the IRS, although the NRCC seems silent on calling on Republican representatives to condemn the agency's budgetary excesses under the Bush-appointed director.

The NRCC also calls on Matheson to condemn fellow Democrat Jim McDermott for criticizing the behavior of some of the groups claiming to have been targeted by the IRS because they are conservative.

No call from the NRCC for Republican members to condemn some of the outrageous statements made by Reps. Michelle Bachmann, Willie Gomert and Darrell Issa, and Utah Sen. Mike Lee's good buddy, the goofy Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas.

Whoever is the ultimate Republican opponent of Matheson in 2014 might want to tell the NRCC to bug out. Supporters of 2012 opponent Mia Love have told me they believe she lost the narrow race because the NRCC took over control of her campaign and screwed it up.

The last time the NRCC inundated the Utah press with anti-incumbent rhetoric in such a manic way, so long before the next election, was in 1992 when the national Republicans just couldn't get over the election of then-Democratic Congresswoman Karen Shepherd.

That was the year Shepherd beat Enid Greene and became a target of Newt Gringrich's national Republican 1994 campaign the day after she was elected in 1992.

Almost daily, press releases slammed Shepherd on issues and actions she had nothing to do with, just like the NRCC is doing to Matheson now.

It seems that a Democrat elected in the ultra-red Beehive State is just too much to bear.

That effort by the NRCC ultimately was successful and the newly married Enid Greene Waldholtz defeated Shepherd in the 1994 rematch to become part of Gingrich's Contract-With-America Republican freshman class.

But Waldholtz lasted only one term, embroiled in a campaign finance scandal that persuaded her to not seek re-election and sent her then husband/campaign manager, Joe Waldholtz, to prison.

I don't recall any NRCC press releases about that. —