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SALT LAKE CITY -- The Jim Matheson-Morgan Philpot race in the 2nd Congressional District became the race to watch on election night. Matheson didn't pull away from Philpot until late into the evening.
The results were neck-and-neck at the beginning and then near the end of the night. By daybreak Wednesday, the preliminary final results showed Jim Matheson the winner, 51 percent to 46 percent. Philpot waited to concede the election until just after noon.
There was a point in time when the negative attacks started that we didn't have the money to rebut them, to combat it.
Matheson admitted on "The Doug Wright Show," the anti-Democrat, anti-incumbent sentiment across the state and the nation was nerve-wracking to him. "There is clearly a partisan wave," he said. " This has got to be the most difficult political environment I've ever run in, and I won, I won by a good margin. So I'm real pleased with the results. I feel good about that."
Philpot says he feels good about his campaign, his supporters and what he has to offer voters. But he says Matheson's campaign simply out-spent him. He said if the national party had helped fund his race, it could have made a difference. Philpot said, "There was a point in time when the negative attacks started that we didn't have the money to rebut them, to combat it. We were operating on $250,000 versus $1.7 million, and a name that's very well known in Utah: given that, we did fantastic."
It is noteworthy in this political year that Democrat Matheson survives in office in one of the most Republican states in the nation. Kirk Jowers of the Hinckley Institute of Politics said, "Jim Matheson has such a deep reservoir of good will in this state. He's had 10 years to nurture relationships. He would not have weathered this storm in 2002." Congressman Matheson is now part of a much different Congress than before. He says, "It'll be interesting."