Today, the local papers finally got around to covering the Matheson/Christensen race, such as it is. The general assesment is right: Jim will have an easy time and part of that is because he is an encumbent, part because he worked so hard to develop his reputation with conservative voters.
I must take issue with this line, however: "Utah's lone Democratic representative in Congress has commandeered traditionally conservative values like fiscal responsibility, multiple use of public lands and protecting children from violence." These are not conservative values, these are DLC/Blue Dog values, and really fiscal responsibility has become a mainstream Democratic value since about 1993. Bill Clinton, Al Gore, and other New Dems triumphed these values and ideas for decades. Everyone wants to protect their children from violence, some just don't see the harm in violent video games and movies. Others find sex in video games and movies more troubling than violence (Christian Conservatives).
As far as the St. George land deal goes, I don't know the specifics and haven't talked to any knowledgable environmental friends of mine about it, so I can't comment on the propriety of the Matheson-Bennett bill on a policy level. But on a political level, it is a no brainer. Jim has surely shown that he is not beholdant to the environmental wing of the party and given Washington County voters another reason to vote for him.
After learning he was being redistricted into Southern Utah, Jim made it his goal to deliver for Washington County, especially since it nearly cost him his seat in 2002. So Jim got a nice airport for St. George, and this land-deal would help development which would be key for swingish voters in the area. Smart moves all.
The payraise move Jim makes every year gets him editorial mentions around the nation and is also good politics. But it also good policy. Why should Congress give itself a raise when it won't raise the minimum wage or reign in spending on boondoogles?
Christensen's slam is to call Jim's legislative career as "representation by press release. Hopefully, he can find one bill that can pass. That would be great." It would be great if he could pass a bill, but guess how many House Democrats get their bills passed in a GOP controlled House, especially ones from potential GOP pick-up seats? I am guessing a handfull at best, and all of those are probabbly much more senior than Jim. So it is a nice line, but has no real substance behind it. Then again, this is the same guy that said "Tolerance is the religion of people who no longer believe in anything."
That has to be the most bigoted and hate-filled statement I have heard in a while. Even if Christensen was running against a pol as disgusting as Joe Biden or Joe Lieberman, I would still vote against LaVar. I have no tolerance for such intolerance.