Democrats don't often speak favorably about members of Congress who vote for President Bush's tax cuts. But they're willing to make an exception when it comes to one of their own, Utah Rep. Jim Matheson (search), running for a third term in a heavily Republican district.
"Jim Matheson, an independent voice for Utah," says an ad aired by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (search). "Jim Matheson always puts Utah first. Like standing alone to stop the automatic pay raise for Congress. And standing with President Bush for tax cuts," it says, the words "George Bush Tax Cuts" appearing on the screen.
Matheson won re-election narrowly two years ago, prevailing by 1,641 votes over his Republican rival, John Swallow (search). Swallow is back for a rematch, and this time, unlike 2002, Bush's name is on the ballot. That's one of the reasons Republicans have made Matheson a top target for defeat this year.
The precincts that comprise the sprawling district gave Bush 67 percent of the vote in 2000, his biggest percentage for any congressional seat outside his home state of Texas.
Support for Bush's tax cuts sounds like a disqualification for a new term rather than a credential for re-election in ads the DCCC is airing elsewhere in the country.
In Connecticut, for example. "Take a close look at Rob Simmons. He voted for George Bush's failed economic plan," says a commercial that shows the congressman's face morphing into the president's image. The documentation for the claim refers to Simmons' votes for the president's tax cuts in 2001, 2002 and 2003 — all of which he supported.
Or New Mexico. "When Heather Wilson has to decide between George Bush's priorities and New Mexico's, she sides with Bush almost nine out of 10 times. Tax cuts for millionaires, denying overtime pay to workers, on prescription drug cards that confuse seniors and enrich drug companies," it says. Documentation provided by Democrats includes the tax cuts in 2001 and 2003.
Simmons is seeking his third term in a New London-centered district in Connecticut that gave Bush only 40 percent of its votes in 2000. His Democratic opponent is Jim Sullivan, a strong critic of the war in Iraq.
Wilson represents Albuquerque in Congress, a district that Bush lost narrowly four years ago. Gore's margin of victory was less than 3,000 votes. Her Democratic opponent is Richard Romero, whom she defeated in 2002 with 55 percent of the vote.