Rep. Jim Matheson (D) announced today he will seek re-election in the 4th district, creating a competitive race in Utah's new House seat.
His decision comes as a big boost to House Democrats, who would have likely lost control of their sole House seat in the state if Matheson did not run.
Utah picked up a new seat in the decennial reapportionment due to population increase. Republicans redrew the Beehive State's Congressional lines earlier this year to make room for the fourth seat, meanwhile carving up Matheson's current district in the redistricting process.
Matheson announced his intentions on his campaign website while also decrying the GOP-led redraw.
"I am excited to announce I will be running for re-election in the 4th Congressional District," Matheson said in a statement. "The political boundaries of the district may be arbitrary, but the people, the communities and their priorities are real and well-known to me."
The new 4th district is friendly territory for Republicans, but it's more welcoming to Democrats than Utah's other three redrawn House seats. Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) would have won the district with 56 percent when he led the GOP's 2008 presidential ticket, according to tabulated data of the new map obtained by Roll Call.
Matheson's decision makes this House race competitive. Roll Call previously rated this as a Safe Republican district, but will re-evaluate following the Democrat's announcement. Matheson's move means there will be an open-seat race in his current 2nd district next year, which is not expected to be competitive for Democrats.
Republicans expected three candidates seek the GOP nomination in the 4th district: state Sen. Carl Wimmer, state Rep. Stephen Sandstrom and Saratoga Springs Mayor Mia Love.
Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., right, hugs Harold Schaitberger, General President of the International Association of Fire Fighters, after the Congressman spoke at the IAFF's Legislative Conference General Session at the Hyatt Regency on Capitol Hill, March 9, 2015. The day featured addresses by members of Congress and Vice President Joe Biden.