SPOTLIGHT | UT-4

Putting Out the Welcome Mitt Mat

Romney’s Senate candidacy could aid a vulnerable House Republican in Utah.

Rep. Mia Love, R-Utah, reaches to shake hands with Sen. Brian Shiozawa, R-Salt Lake, right, after speaking to the Utah Senate, at the Utah State Capitol Thursday, Feb. 23, 2017, in Salt Lake City. Love says that though she's opposed to abortion, she's running a proposal to make it easier to get birth control pills by allowing women to get it over-the-counter. Love told lawmakers that she feels it's her duty to protect life but it's not her job to tell people how to plan their families.
AP Photo/Rick Bowmer
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Kyle Trygstad
Jan. 26, 2018, 6:26 a.m.

Rep. Mia Love caused a stir in November when she was overheard saying that Sen. Orrin Hatch “isn’t sticking around.” In the context of a poll released Thursday, the more notable portion of her remark was that she and others were recruiting Mitt Romney to run for Hatch’s seat.

Love, who is facing another competitive Democratic challenger in Utah’s 4th District, should be among the happiest to see Romney announce his Senate campaign next week. The Salt Lake Tribune poll found the second-term Republican leading Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams, 47-42 percent. That’s little changed from October, yet there were other warning signs beneath the uninspiring topline.

McAdams held a wide lead among unaffiliated voters, 54-25 percent, while President Trump sported just a 42 percent approval rating—though that is 3 points higher than his winning take in 2016. Love has criticized the president, and she was able to separate from him enough in 2016 to win by 13 points. But having a Republican as popular in Utah as Romney running above her on the ticket—and appearing with her on the trail—could prompt some undecided voters to stick with her in Democrats’ best chance at the seat since Jim Matheson retired.

Still, McAdams raised $500,000 in his first two and a half months as a candidate, and House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer touching down in the district Thursday indicates Democrats are optimistic here.

Kyle Trygstad

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