Utah Rep. Jim Matheson, a centrist Democrat targeted repeatedly for defeat by Republicans, said Tuesday that he won't seek another term in Congress in 2014.
Matheson announced that he would retire from Congress at the end of this term, setting up a prime opportunity for Republicans to finally claim control of Utah's fourth congressional district.
"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," Matheson wrote on his Facebook page. "Today, I am announcing that I will not seek reelection to the House of Representatives."
Matheson's retirement creates an opportunity not only for the GOP, but for Mia Love -- a rising Republican star who lost to Matheson by just 2,646 votes in 2012. An African American woman, Love's speech at last year's Republican National Convention drew broad acclaim from conservatives.
Love will almost certainly be the odds-on favorite to claim the seat next fall, provided she can secure the nomination. The fourth district encompasses parts of Salt Lake and Provo, Utah.
Democrats need to add 17 seats to their ranks in the House to retake control of the chamber, a tall feat at this juncture. Progressives did get some encouraging news earlier Tuesday, though, when longtime GOP Rep. Frank Wolf of a competitive northern Virginia district said that he, too, would retire at the end of his term.
First published December 17 2013, 11:41 AM