So here's the "logic" Michelle Price at the Associated Press relayed from Democratic circles in Utah in her Tuesday report on eight-term Democratic Congressman Jim Matheson's decision to leave Congress: He would have had a tough time defeating Mia Love in next year's congressional race rematch, but he's now in a better position to take on an incumbent Republican in a 2016 statewide race — either U.S. Senator Mike Lee or Governor Gary Herbert.
Price either chose not to find or couldn't find a Republican to comment on Matheson's statewide prospects, nor could she locate anyone close to Matheson to comment on whether or not the congressman even has any statewide ambitions. Thus, she spent several paragraphs on mere speculation. Excerpts follow the jump (bolds are mine):
UTAH DEMOCRAT REP. MATHESON WON'T SEEK 8TH TERM
U.S. Rep. Jim Matheson, Utah's only Democrat in Congress, announced Tuesday that he will not seek re-election, easing the way for Republicans to pick up another House seat in a solidly red state.
Matheson was expected to face a tough repeat challenge in 2014 from Saratoga Springs Mayor Mia Love, a Republican he narrowly defeated in 2012.
While Utah Democrats admitted Matheson's decision not to run for an eighth term is a blow, they're hoping it will set him up to challenge U.S. Sen. Mike Lee or Gov. Gary Herbert, both Republicans who are up for re-election in 2016.
... He is also the son of popular former Utah Gov. Scott Matheson, the state's last Democratic governor, who served until 1985.
... Utah Democratic Party Chairman Dabakis lamented Tuesday's news but said he understands Matheson's reasons.
... While the departure stings in the short term and likely catapults Love to the favored candidate, Dabakis said it could lay the foundation for Democrats to make a serious bid for governor or the U.S. Senate in 2016, should Matheson choose to run.
Tim Chambless of the University of Utah's Hinckley Institute of Politics said he wouldn't be surprised if Matheson launched a bid for Lee's seat or the governor's office in 2016.
Democrats would unite behind him for either seat, and Matheson has shown he has the political instincts to go toe-to-toe with Republicans, Chambless said.
Damon Cann, a political scientist at Utah State University, said the race against Love "was going to be bruising" and Matheson was not guaranteed a win. By stepping down now, Cann said, it leaves Matheson better positioned for 2016.
So a guy who concluded that he couldn't win his own congressional district would be a great statewide candidate, partially because his father was governor almost 30 years ago. Sure, guys.
The report comes off as a pacifier on which Utah Democrats can chew as they contemplate the prospect of being completely swept out of Congress in a year.
Cross-posted at BizzyBlog.com.