Incumbent defends seat in Congress and funds for students

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Matheson to defend his seat this fall (Photo Courtesy of Jim Matheson)

Although notable Republicans lined up to show love for Saratoga Springs mayor Mia Love, it may take more than the limelight of the GOP National Convention to oust her incumbent opponent.

On Nov. 6, Love will square off against Rep. Jim Matheson, D-Utah, a Salt Lake City native and six-term representative for Utah’s Second Congressional District. This district, reorganized in 2011, covers 14 southeastern Utah counties and includes parts of Salt Lake County and Utah County.

Running for his seventh term as a congressman, Matheson not only leads Love in experience, but also in the polls. According to the latest poll conducted by Dan Jones and associates for the Deseret News, Matheson showed a impressive lead over Love, garnering 53 percent of the votes from the 379 registered voters surveyed. This compares to Love’s 38 percent.

What is most impressive, however, about Matheson’s long run in the House of Representatives is that he represents a highly conservative district and state. When state legislators reorganized the district, they increased it from 60 percent to 65 percent Republican.

Matheson’s success may be attributed to his name: his father served as Utah’s last Democratic governor from 1977 to 1985. It may also be attributed to his moderate political views. As his website biography states, he has “championed bipartisanship throughout his previous six terms, looking to ‘reach across the aisle’ for common sense solutions to issues.”

In particular, Matheson has looked to reach across the financial aisle which divides right-wingers and left-wingers across the country. As a former co-chairman and current member of the Blue Dog Coalition, he is among a group of “fiscally conservative” Democrats within the House of Representatives. The coalition also advocates “for mainstream American values…and a strong defense.”

Matheson’s latest campaigns have addressed the fiscal proposals of Mia Love. While Love attended the GOP National Convention in Tampa last week, Matheson toured Salt Lake City and spoke to college students about his plans for their future education. He criticized Love’s proposal to save $33.1 billion by eliminating a number of student loans, work study programs, and grants. 181,005 Utah college students receive financial aid according to the U.S. Department of Education.

Mark Davis, a senior from Lawrenceville, Ga. majoring in business, said, “I consider myself quite fiscally conservative, but I do not believe that cutting education is the solution.”

As BYU students, both he and his wife benefit from Pell grants, and he believes this issue will be a concern for student voters in the upcoming elections.

“Supporting higher education is the best way for the government to invest in future tax revenue,” he said. “Though I don’t look forward to paying more taxes, higher education leads to higher salaries which leads to higher revenue for the IRS. Supporting education is something we must do to keep skilled and professional jobs here in the U.S.”

After learning about Love’s proposal, Kenny Adams, a senior from Spokane, Wash., majoring in Russian, said that although he also considers himself a conservative, “It doesn’t matter whether you’re a Republican or Democrat. Mia Love’s proposal to cut student financial aid is an irrational plan. There are better ways to save $33.1 billion.”

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