One of the more interesting battles in the House this year will be for Utah’s newly-created 4th congressional district as the state has gained a House seat after the 2010 Census, consisting of the areas in and around Salt Lake City. It’s pitting current Utah Democrat Jim Matheson of the 2nd district (who has now seen all the urban vote split and moved into the new 4th) against Saratoga Springs mayor Mia Love, who surprised everyone in April’s primary by becoming the first African-American Mormon woman to become a congressional candidate in the state.
Love, who has attracted lots of national Republican support, also stands out because of her religion: She’s a Mormon. The politician is a poster child for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ campaign to present a more diverse face to a historically very white church.
“There are a lot of people who have tried to define me as a person,” Love, a daughter of Haitian immigrants, told CNN’s Kyra Phillips in an interview Tuesday. “I’m not a victim, and I don’t allow anybody to put me in a box.”
Speaking from Salt Lake City, she said, “There may be some challenges. But … I love this place and love the people that are here, and I represent their beliefs and values.”
In the CNN interview, Love talked about how Mormonism would affect Mitt Romney’s candidacy more than her own, which is happening in the most Mormon state in the nation.
“You know I don’t think those are the issues that Americans really care about,” Love said when asked about the role of Romney’s religion in the presidential campaign. “I think Americans care about jobs, the economy; they care about the debt and deficit spending. … Being a Mormon is part of who he is as a person, and I don’t think it should deter from the issues.”
If elected in November, Love would be the first black Republican woman in Congress and Utah’s first black representative. She said she would join the Congressional Black Caucus in Washington, D.C., should she win.
“Yes, yes. I would join the Congressional Black Caucus and try to take that thing apart from the inside out,” she said.
Though officially nonpartisan, the caucus has been more closely identified with the Democratic Party.
“It’s demagoguery. They sit there and ignite emotions and ignite racism when there isn’t,” Love said. “They use their positions to instill fear. Hope and change is turned into fear and blame. Fear that everybody is going lose everything and blaming Congress for everything instead of taking responsibility.”
The caucus isn’t the only thing Love said she would dismantle in Washington. The departments of education and energy must go, she said. States, she said, should take back those duties along with health care.
Needless to say, the Republicans would dearly want to have Mia Love as the new face of their big tent. Unfortunately she’s being used to see their same old crazy ideas. Take apart the Congressional Black Caucus from the inside, because why should African-Americans have a group in Congress? Good grief, she’s Allen West in heels.
Democrat Jim Matheson is going to need some help, as the national GOP will certainly be invested in Love’s win. Polls taken before the primary showed Matheson had a narrow lead at best against any of his GOP challengers, including Love. You can bet Karl Rove and his Crossroads buddies are going to try to bury Matheson under a tsunami of cash tying him to the Obama administration, which is annoying because he’s one of the few remaining Blue Dogs in the House right now and voted against the PPACA, raising the debt limit, for the 2011 GOP House budget, he’s got a lousy NARAL record (30%), etc. but he voted for Dodd-Frank and a number of other regulatory issues.
But if the choice in Utah’s 4th is between a Blue Dog and the female version of Allen West, I’m going with the Blue Dog every time. Period.
Zandar is ABLC's Cincinnati-area correspondent, covering Ohio, Kentucky, and Indiana politics and all the nearly endless unintentional comedy the Tri-State area brings. He's proprietor of Zandar vs. The Stupid, where he's been blogging since 2008, and you can also find him at Balloon Juice and The Reaction as a contributor, or you can yell at him on Twitter at @ZandarVTS.
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