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GOP Rep. Mia Love trails Ben McAdams, but race undecided

By BRADY McCOMBS and LINDSAY WHITEHURSTNovember 7, 2018
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Republican U.S. Rep. Mia Love walks to greets supporters during an election night party Tuesday Nov. 6, 2018, in Lehi, Utah. Love is expected to face a stiff challenge from Democrat Ben McAdams in the state's 4th congressional district. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)
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Republican U.S. Rep. Mia Love walks to greets supporters during an election night party Tuesday Nov. 6, 2018, in Lehi, Utah. Love is expected to face a stiff challenge from Democrat Ben McAdams in the state's 4th congressional district. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Democrat Ben McAdams was leading Republican Mia Love in his bid to flip a U.S. House district in deep-red Utah Tuesday night, but the marquee race was too close to call.

Both candidates said they were hopeful as they made brief appearances at election night parties.

“It is not over, but everything is looking good,” McAdams said in a late-night speech. “I think it’s going to take a few days before we know the outcome of the election, but if we win, this will be a win for people over politics.”

The enthusiastic crowd, chanted, “Ben! Ben! Ben!”

Earlier in the night, his supporters smiled and struck the dab pose in front of a cardboard cutout of the Salt Lake County mayor and former state lawmaker at a Democratic election night party in Salt Lake City. Some attendees wore blue glitter beards and donned hats that said “Vote for sanity” as they hoped to ride a “blue wave” on election night.

Meanwhile, at Love’s election night party south of Salt Lake City in Lehi, kids played with orange and white balloons that decorated the hotel conference room as their parents waited for results.

Love, the only black Republican woman in Congress, drew cheers from supporters when she made a quick appearance.

“It’s going to be a long night. A very long night. It always is,” Love said. “But we’re here for it. We’re up to the task and I believe that it’s looking really good for us.”

The state’s other three Republican congressmen — Rob Bishop, John Curtis and Chris Stewart — easily won re-election bids.

Bishop defeated Democrat Lee Castillo and Eric Eliason of the United Utah Party to win a ninth term in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Curtis defeated Democrat James Singer to win his first full term after last year winning special election to replace Rep. Jason Chaffetz, who stepped down and is now a Fox News commentator.

Stewart beat Democrat Shireen Ghorbani, who was a first-time candidate who energized the Democratic base by criticizing President Donald Trump and GOP-backed tax cuts.

The Love-McAdams race triggered a seemingly endless stream of mailers and TV and radio ads with the two trading barbs over trustworthiness, campaign finances and health care.

Love had spent $5 million during the election cycle through Oct. 25, while McAdams spent $2.6 million, according to Federal Election Commission data.

McAdams touted himself as a moderate in hopes of appealing to independent voters who are narrowly outnumbered by Republican voters in the 4th Congressional District. GOP voters outnumber Democrats nearly 3-1 in the district that includes several politically mixed suburbs of Salt Lake City. He was hoping to siphon some GOP votes while riding Democratic enthusiasm this midterm election.

Love has been stressing her independence from President Donald Trump as she seeks a third term in the conservative state where many voters remain uncomfortable with the president’s demeanor and comments. She has touted tax cuts as a benefit of a Republican House majority while working to tie McAdams to national Democrats.

Lynn Snarr is a registered Democrat but said she voted for Love and has supported the politician since discovering the similarities in their stories. Both women’s parents are Haitian immigrants. Both women were born in Brooklyn, New York.

“I think all little girls look at her and say, ‘You know what, I could do what she’s done,’” Snarr said.

McAdams supporter Sawyer Cornelius, an 18-year-old Salt Lake Community College student, said having an adopted brother who is black opened her eyes to race and sparked a bigger interest in politics. She’s now begun participating in rallies against the family separations at the border and in favor of more gun control.

“I am really excited for the Democrats to take back the house an actually start moving forward to a better change for America,” Sawyer said.

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This story has been corrected to show that Mia Love did not defeat Jim Matheson in 2014. Matheson opted not to run again, and Love defeated Democrat Doug Owens.

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Associated Press writers Tiffany Caldwell in Lehi, Utah, and Emily Anderson in Salt Lake City contributed to this story.

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For AP’s complete coverage of the U.S. midterm elections: http://apne.ws/APPolitics

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