Washington • The National Republican Congressional Committee is taking aim at Democratic Rep. Jim Matheson in a new television commercial in Utah, using his own words against him in an effort to soften him up ahead of next year's election.
The Republican group has purchased $60,000 in cable and broadcast spots to air in Utah for 10 days, the most the NRCC has spent this election cycle targeting a single member outside of a special election.
The gritty 30-second spot shows Matheson from his 2010 convention speech, where he was forced into a primary and defended his Democratic credentials. Republicans don't want Utahns to forget that.
"I'm a Democrat, and I'm here to tell you I don't run from that label," the ad shows Matheson saying.
"That's not the only label he wears," an announcer intones. "Matheson is also President Obama's biggest supporter in Utah."
Matheson has yet to say whether he will seek re-election in the 2nd Congressional District, choose another district to run in or challenge Gov. Gary Herbert. He has ruled out a bid against Sen. Orrin Hatch.
The congressman, who hasn't yet seen the ad, said if the NRCC is trying to scare him out of running for the House again or to hurt his base, that's "wishful thinking."
"This is something that doesn't really bother me at all," Matheson said. "Everyone knows who I am in Utah."
Furthermore, Matheson added, he's been hit by the left and the right over the years for his votes and positions and that's just fine because it shows he's not on the extremes of either.
"That speaks well for who I am," Matheson said.
The Democrat represents the most Republican district of any of his fellow party members in Congress. And that district will be more Republican based on recently approved redistricting maps.
The NRCC is hitting Matheson over jobs legislation that Republicans in Congress have put forward but has faced stiff opposition from Democrats.
"When it is time for voters in Utah to decide if they want Jim Matheson to represent them again in 2013, they need to remember that Matheson is a proud supporter of President Obama and his crippling economic policies," NRCC spokesman Paul Lindsay said.
Matheson counters that while outsiders may think that Utahns vote blindly on party label, that's not the case.
"We here in Utah know better," he said.