Candidates hit Utah streets in last days of close House race
WEST JORDAN, Utah (AP) — Days before voters decide a razor-thin contest for one of Utah’s U.S. House seats, Republican Rep. Mia Love and challenger Ben McAdams hit the streets to bring out every last voter in the race Democrats are targeting as they push for control of the chamber.
Love and her team climbed aboard a modified blue-and-orange motor scooter as they chatted with people mowing their lawns and heading to grocery stores.
Brandon Evans, 36, said he’ll vote for her because she supports gun rights.
“I feel like they’re under attack more than they’ve ever been,” said Evans, taking a break from cleaning out the storage room at his family’s home in Salt Lake City’s fast-growing suburb of West Jordan.
“I am still the same person I’ve always been and will continue to be,” she said, assuring him she still has a concealed-carry permit.
Love has been stressing her independence from President Donald Trump as she seeks a third term in the conservative state where many voters, including Republicans like Evans, remain uncomfortable with the president’s demeanor and comments.
The country’s first black female Republican in the U.S. House has touted tax cuts as a benefit of a Republican House majority while working to tie McAdams to national Democrats.
Republicans in the district outnumber Democrats nearly 3-1 but are almost even with the number of independent voters.
McAdams, Salt Lake County’s mayor, has gone after those independent votes and tried to peel off some Republicans to add to his enthusiastic Democratic base.
He walked the streets in a neighborhood just outside Democrat-leaning Salt Lake City on Saturday with Deondra Brown of the well-known Utah piano group The 5 Browns.
Greeting people surprised to see his familiar face on their doorsteps, he talked about health care and helped voters make plans to make it to the polls.
“I think we need a sane voice ... reasonable people who respect each other,” said voter Mariah Mellus, 41, who waved to McAdams from across the street because she knows him from events at the film center where she works.
During the campaign, McAdams has staked out a firm middle ground, saying he would not support Democrat Nancy Pelosi as House speaker and could work with Trump. He’s also been sharply critical of Love, saying she hasn’t accomplished enough and that she votes with the president most of the time. She says he’s distorted her record.
The hard-fought campaign has turned personal, with Love telling reporters at one point that her family and the McAdams family were friends before he filed to run against her with little warning. McAdams, for his part, said his decision to run was separate from the friendship.
Love’s fundraising also surfaced as an issue after the Federal Election Commission sent a letter raising questions about $1.1 million she raised for a primary season in which she ran unopposed.
The campaign said most of that was legitimate since it still had to prepare for any last-minute opponents, but agreed to re-designate or refund about $380,000 raised after Love became the official nominee.
Love said that ended the issue and released an FEC email backing her position. She said criticism from McAdams was misleading.
But her campaign still faces an open complaint from a left-leaning group saying it tried to “game the system” by raising money even though Love had no primary opponent, something her campaign denies.