Congressman Jim Matheson, aka “Phantom Jim“, has refused for years to hold town hall meetings. Dogged by GOP chair, Dave Hansen, his constituents and his opponent, Morgan Philpot, Matheson finally responded – by changing the definition of “town hall.”
In case you missed the recent Tribune article, Matheson now counts “meet-and-greets at businesses, student forums and even radio interviews as town halls, essentially including any time he takes questions from a group in Utah.” Even screened calls on a tele-town hall…..
Sounding very Clinton-esque, Matheson said “I guess it all depends on how you define ‘town hall meetings.’” Um, yeah. Pretty sure only Phantom Jim defines a phone call or radio interview as a town hall. His campaign is holding a “meeting” this coming Saturday morning, “to talk to other voters in Millcreek.” What do you bet he’ll count the neighborhood canvassing as a town hall too? (Except he probably won’t even show up.)
So Phantom Jim won’t even schedule his own town halls, he refuses to meet with his opponent, Morgan Philpot in any sort of public venue. Philpot tried to work with the Matheson campaign and asked them to choose a venue, choose a format, just make an appearance, but the Matheson campaign called town halls a campaign “stunt” and said it was outrageous Philpot would even ask. So far, Matheson has only agreed to one debate and that’s the one KSL is sponsoring in the fall. Maybe “Phantom Jim” could also be called “Chicken Jim”….. (By the way – pretty sure the Trib hit a nerve. Matheson’s spokeswoman is getting pretty heated. And here’s another question. Why can’t Jim answer his own questions? Is he hiding from the press too?)
In addition to pulling ongoing disappearing acts (and remember – he’s bipartisan in being unavailable – he wouldn’t talk to Rocky Anderson about Obamacare either and skipped out on his own national convention ), he is getting hammered for continuing to hang on to the tens of thousands of dollars good old Charlie Rangel ponied up for him over the last decade. The NRCC is on the attack, City Weekly is calling him out, for crying out loud, the Trib is blogging about it and the Daily Herald has an editorial piece saying he needs to return the “tainted dough“. And let’s be honest here – with more than a million sitting in the bank, it’s not because Matheson can’t afford to return the money. The real question is, can he afford not to.
Phantom Jim has gotten a free pass for years, careful to never take a strong stand on anything (except his hatred of Energy Solutions). That way, no one ever really gets too mad and he continues to get re-elected. This year, though, his arrogant, aloof attitude, coupled with a strong anti-incumbent sentiment and the fact that he votes with Pelosi over 90% of the time may well be his undoing. He is a invisible to his own party, so having a Representative in the majority party does nothing for Utah. And a “fiscal conservative” he ain’t. Maybe he should have paid attention to something else Clinton said: “It’s the economy, stupid.”