Phantom Jim and “town halls”


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.”

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15 Responses to “Phantom Jim and “town halls””

  1. Lisa Shepherd Says:


    This blog is very informative and interesting. I love your writing style and appreciate your bluntness.

    I like how you pointed out his phantom-ness with his own Party as well as his phantom-ness to the people of the 2nd Congressional District. Also, your pointing out his membership in the majority Party does nothing for Utah is a keen insight. Great points to highlight and for the voters to digest.

    Will those points give the average Republican voter heartburn? I feel a little sour taste coming up now. ; )

    Why would he not want to take on the Republican Candidate more than once? Is he afraid to let the voters realize that Morgan Philpot is more aligned with their ideologies and principles? Jim may be a nice guy, but being a nice guy is not what will fix this country. Morgan is a nice guy, too, but with principles that will better represent the people of the 2nd District and Utah.

    It’s time for the voters to step up and vote to get some true representation.

    Lisa Shepherd

  2. Jesse Harris Says:

    Spineless Jim needs to press flesh if he wants to stay in office. Maybe he missed the memo that part of the job is dealing with angry voters.

  3. The Writer Says:

    Snap! I’ve been trying to find a public event to hear Jim for YEARS and I would love the chance. You either gotta catch him by chance at the random event he attends, or you gotta just suck it up. Either way, there’s almost NO chance to let him know what you think about public policy or how you would like him to vote. I nominate him the LEAST accessible elected official in Utah.

  4. Heather Groom Says:

    Thank you for the great article. Utah should not settle for luke-warm any more. I hope Phantom Jim will come out of obscurity and face the people he claims to represent.

  5. Marcy Underdahl Says:

    I have NEVER found his Price office staffed!!

  6. rmwarnick Says:

    I tried one of Rep. Matheson’s telephone “town halls,” but it sounded like a meeting of the Jim Matheson Fan Club and I wasn’t allowed to ask my question (about habeas corpus). But I did see him go by in a parade on July 3.

    Rep. Matheson usually hides from the press as well as the public. The title of “phantom congressman” is well deserved.

  7. Tom Gilbert Says:

    I contacted Matheson’s office about the health care vote. His letter assured me that he would vote against it and he did. Unfortunately his Democratic friends rammed it through any way. He has little influence on their liberal/progressive agends. As long as the Dems are in charge the country will continue it’s slide into Canadien Socialism. Utah needs to stop adding to the Democrats majority by electing Morgan Philpot. That way we get a conservative that will help get a conservative majority in the house and get rid of Pelosi. Rangel and other misguided Americans.

  8. utah_1 Says:

    I would like to see Morgan Philpot replace Rep. Jim Matheson.

    Matheson has been sitting on the fence.

    Matheson voted to change the rules so Obamacare would pass, then voted against it, and then said he wouldn’t vote to repeal it.

    Vote for Morgan Philpot. You will get someone that will listen, understands you can’t just keep spending our money and will try to get 2/3 of Utah back instead of keeping giving it away.

  9. Mary Says:

    Wow, every one of the above comments sounds just like the comments of the far left crowd that supported Claudia Wright in the primary. He won that one by a landslide and I predict he will win this November by a landslide. Why? Because he listens to and votes for the MAJORITY of the constituents. The extreme left of Salt Lake County and the extreme right of Utah County aren’t going to decide this election.

  10. rmwarnick Says:

    Is support for habeas corpus considered a “far left” position by Rep. Matheson? Good to know.

  11. Debie Says:

    It is time to get a true candidate in that will listen to the people, not just pretend to. It is time to elect someone who will be honest, and create honest laws. This is the election to make a difference in! Please vote Matheson OUT! We will be voting, along with the majority for Morgan Philpot!

  12. JBT Says:

    If Matheson is replaced by a Republican, who will be able to tell the difference? “Chicken Jim” is quite appropriate. For once I agree with Holly.

  13. Curtis Thompson Says:

    Just got a link to a site I was told was inspired by your article and the Tribunes…looks like someone agrees that Mr. Matheson is MIA!

  14. Obama New Health Care - Matheson to vote no’ on Obama health care plan - Health Care Plan Says:

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