Four Republican candidates who already announced possible runs for Congress against Rep. Jim Matheson, D-Utah, have a problem.
All of them Cherilyn Eagar, John Willoughby, Chuck Williams and Jason Buck live outside the proposed new 2nd Congressional District that was drawn this week for Matheson by the Legislature's Redistricting Committee. But the four are still considering running against him anyway from outside of the district, although Williams says he is considering moving into it.
So Republican lawmakers accused by Democrats of bending lines to make Matheson's district as difficult as possible for him ended up drawing several GOP hopefuls out of that district all together.
Still, that doesn't stop the four from running because federal law requires that members of Congress merely live in the state where they are elected, and not necessarily in the district they represent. In fact, Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, who lives in Alpine, has lived just outside the 3rd Congressional District in Utah that he has represented for two terms.
But Chaffetz appears to be only the third U.S. House member in history to clearly live outside his district, according to digging by The Tribune and congressional researchers. Most voters demand that their representative live inside their district boundaries.
But Chaffetz proved that isn't always the case, and the four would-be opponents of Matheson are now looking to follow in Chaffetz's footsteps. Ironically, all of them were drawn into Chaffetz's new district, where Chaffetz would finally live himself under the committee-endorsed map that still requires approval of the full Legislature. And while they hope to challenge Matheson, he has said he may run for governor or the Senate instead, in part, because of how lines are being redrawn.
"I live about a half-mile outside the new 2nd District [where Matheson lives], but I will be running there," said Eagar, a realtor who lives in Holladay and ran unsuccessfully for the U.S. Senate last year.
She said she has lived in the district previously and understands it. "I always said it was my intention to challenge Matheson, and I am the right woman with the right plan at the right time in the right race. Jason Chaffetz did the same thing, so I don't see it [living outside the district] to be an issue."
Willoughby, an airline pilot who once was the unsuccessful GOP nominee in a Hawaii U.S. House race, lives in Draper, roughly 15 miles from the nearest border with the proposed new 2nd District.
"I wouldn't run against Chaffetz. I'm also real happy with the choice in the new 4th District with [state Rep.] Carl Wimmer. So I think I will just stick with District 2 and run outside the district," he said.
Willoughby said he has lived throughout the region and understands the needs of the area. "I've lived up in the Avenues. I've lived in Olympus Hills twice, Holladay twice, Cottonwood twice, Sandy twice, Midvale once and now Draper. So I consider myself a District 2 boy."
Buck, a former pro football player and a motivational speaker, lives in Highland in Utah County, about 15 miles from the nearest border with the proposed new 2nd District (which for him is the border between Tooele and Utah counties). He said he is still considering running in the proposed new 4th District against Wimmer, or in the 2nd against Matheson.
"I am comfortable with either. I have traveled the state a lot over the years speaking, and I'm as comfortable being in St. George as Logan," he said. "I'm as comfortable standing in a field with a farmer as being in a corporate board room."
Williams, a retired Air Force officer, lives in Heber, about 40 miles outside the 2nd District. "I've said from the beginning that I plan to run against Matheson. But I believe a congressman should live in the district that he represents."
So, he said he will wait until the full Legislature adopts a final redistricting plan, and then make a decision whether to move into the district and continue his challenge.
Besides those four Republicans, state Rep. David Clark, R-Santa Clara, has often been mentioned as a potential candidate in what has become the 2nd District. He lives in its large boundaries, which include all of Salt Lake City, Bountiful and Woods Cross Â and then it stretches out to Tooele County and takes in most of southern Utah, including Clark's home near St. George.
The Legislature's Redistricting Committee meets again at 10 a.m. Thursday in the State Capitol, Room 445, to approve final tweaks to the new maps in time for a scheduled special session of the full Legislature on Monday.
Chaffetz is a historically rare outsider
Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, appears to be one of only three U.S. House members in history who clearly did not live in their districts, research indicates Â although questions about the residency of others arose through the years, but virtually all of them at least claimed to own property or rent an apartment in their districts.
One of those who lived outside his district was former Rep. Parren J. Mitchell, D-Md., who served from 1971 to 1987. He was the first black representative elected from Maryland. His true home district was only 20 percent black, and he chose to run in a neighboring Baltimore district that was about half black.
Another Maryland congressman, William McCreery, was elected in 1807 in a Baltimore district, after he had moved outside its boundaries. His election was contested because of that, but the House chose to seat him.
A third man was elected to a district where he did not live, but the House refused to seat him.
John Bailey was elected in 1823 in Massachusetts. But he had been living in Washington, D.C., where he was a State Department clerk. Strangely, the House ruled he was a legal resident of Massachusetts, but not an "inhabitant" (as constitutional language requires) at the time of election so it would not seat him.
So Bailey complained that Rep. John Forsyth, D-Ga., also elected in 1823, did not live in Georgia when he was elected because he was a U.S. diplomat living in Spain.
But the House ruled that those serving abroad for the government are still considered inhabitants of their home state, so it seated Forsyth.