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Inside Politics

Matheson defeats Swallow in rematch

Utah 2nd Congressional District

Rep. Jim Matheson, above, defeated John Swallow again in 2004.
House: UT 02 Updated: 5:33 p.m. ET
Matheson 55%
Swallow 43%
100% precincts reporting
Election Results Main Page

(CNN) -- Democratic incumbent Rep. Jim Matheson fought challenger John Swallow for a second time to keep his seat in Utah's 2nd District.

CNN projected that Matheson would win the race with 56 percent of the vote to Swallow's 42 percent. Other third party candidates received 2 percent of the vote.

The two originally faced off for the seat in 2002, with Matheson winning by only 1,600 votes after fending off a late Swallow charge.

The 2004 race saw the pattern repeat, as early polls had Matheson with a big lead with Swallow tightening the gap as Election Day approached.

Republicans hoped things would be different with the polarized nature of this election, combined with President Bush's strong showing in Utah, a state he took with 67 percent of the vote in 2000. Republican presidential nominees have not only won Utah in every election since 1980, they've done it by resounding margins -- only twice getting less than 66 percent of the vote.

And in this race, the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) stepped up mailings, phone calls and television ads that characterized the incumbent Democrat as an abortion advocate, anti-family, tax-and-spend liberal.

Swallow even provided a letter, which he claimed was signed by Republican leaders holding office throughout southern Utah, that called on Matheson to apologize for trying to "scare" voters. "Your attempt to portray John Swallow as being tolerant of renewed nuclear testing is simply untrue," read the letter.

Matheson said Swallow is being naive if he believes his support of nuclear weapons research wouldn't lead to nuclear weapons testing at some unknown point in the future. And Matheson fought back with a full-page brochure sent out in late October that hammered Swallow, a former state legislator, for voting against criminal background checks for child-care providers in 1999.

"An FBI national background check costs a little more, but what's a few cents when it could mean saving the innocence of a child?" the mailing asked in a box superimposed over a hazy photo of a man. "It's a good thing for John Swallow that kids can't vote."

"I've been beaten up for four weeks," Matheson said defending the mailing. "With over $1 million coming from the national Republicans to misrepresent my record, I think people should know both of our records."

Matheson also stressed his emphasis on local issues. He ran an ad seeking to end nuclear testing, assuring Utahns nuclear weapons would not be tested "in our backyard." Another Matheson ad called for local control of schools, with the tagline "Utah parents, not Washington, should be deciding what our kids are taught."

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