Many, if not most Utah Democrats are unhappy with the present plan and grumbling about it pretty loudly. After the jump I'll explain why I think this plan is the best thing the Democrats could hope for.
Democrats are up in arms over this "packing" of all the liberals into one district, claiming it will supress the party statewide. I find this a bit like standing in an ocean and saying "don't spill any water, you will get your feet wet!". The democrats are already supressed statewide. Many are afraid to put up Democratic Signs and bumperstickers due to fears of "retaliation" from neighbors, co-workers and employers.
Congressman Matheson is a phenomenally popular office holder, the most popular in the state's Congressional delegation, but what he is not is a party builder. That is part of what has made him popular (with both R's and D's) and allowed him to hold his seat, I mean him no disrespect and understand his actions in this regard. Given the districts that were drawn for him, and the state of the Democratic Party in Utah, he has acted in the proper defense of one Democratic seat for the state.
As such, Matheson runs his own races, mostly independent of the State Party (which thanks to the 50SS has 4 brutally overworked staffers), and as such, does not have much of a "coattail" or "party building" effect for other Dems statewide or within his districts (shifting) boundries. If you moved his district to a mostly Democratic/Liberal area, yes he would likely face a challenge from the Left, but more importantly, he, or whoever takes the seat, would be provided an opportunity to build the party.
Starting from the already liberal district, better data could be compiled for donors, volunteers, etc, a vocal majority could be more visible and express their pride in affiliation with the Democratic party. Presently, many of these liberals are divided into the 3 districts, having their votes diluted in giant pools of Republican voters in two fo the districts, as such, many of them are disenchanted and less likely to vote in statewide and off-year elections.
From this one district, a strong organization could be built, and then have its efforts and energy channeled into shifting the balance in another district, likely to be the proposed district 4, which includes Washington County and the rest of the South West corner, an area of great growth, including many "move-ins" who are often moderate or liberal.
This is an area a Democrat could capture, it includes several counties I believe we (the Ashdown campaign) will win outright this November, and there are some good strong Democrats down there running in State Assembly and State Senate races that would make viable candidates for the U.S. House in the near future.
Of course all this is just wasted bits if the naysayers are right in suggesting this plan is a pipe dream from the start and will never actually happen...I am optimistic it will happen, the question is just when it will happen and what the finer details are.
As for the way the lines are drawn? I am in favor of lines drawn as these are, mostly on county boundries, keeping communities together, that is how districts should be drawn. I would rather see districts drawn with no regard to party affiliation, only regard for contiguous communities, but this step is needed, and beneficial to the Democratic party in Utah.
Just don't get too giddy about it, then the Republicans might figure out this is a bad idea for them. In fact, keep grumbling a little bit, maybe even fume here and there just so it gets passed sooner rather than later. The tie-in to the campaign I am working in is very simple, make the party stronger and statewide races become much more competitive.