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SALT LAKE CITY — Big money is already being spent on TV commercials in the 4th Congressional District rematch between Rep. Mia Love, R-Utah, and her Democratic challenger, Doug Owens.
So far, Love has bought about $1.16 million in air time through the Nov. 8 election, and Owens has spent nearly $700,000 for commercials that began showing up on Utah TV stations Tuesday.
While candidates typically wait until after Labor Day to run TV commercials, Love's campaign manager, Dave Hansen, said the first-term congresswoman decided to hit the airwaves a week sooner than planned.
"We have the money to start earlier," Hansen said. Plus, he said the campaign wants to get ahead of what will likely be a "lot more clutter in campaign ads" from candidates in other races, including for governor and president.
"This will get intense. The thing about it is, there are going to be a lot of races out there," Hansen said. "People will get tired of politics in general, as they always do."
Owens' spokesman, Taylor Morgan, said in a statement that "Utahns are fed up with politicians who are more interested in the perks of office than in serving the people who elected them. Voters are responding to Doug's message of putting Utah first, and we're working hard to share that message with as many voters as possible."
Love's commercial features supporters touting her as a "fighter" and as a "sincere," "genuine," "straight shooter," and "bipartisan" representative who has protected jobs, encouraged local control of schools and helped veterans and their families.
In his commercial, Owens reflects on his pioneer heritage, describing how his great-grandfather journeyed with hundreds of others "and worked together to build our state. That's still how we get things done in Utah," unlike Washington politicians.
In 2014, Owens came within 5 percentage points of defeating Love for the seat that had been held by now-retired Rep. Jim Matheson, the last Democrat to serve in Congress from Utah.
This year's race has been declared a toss-up by several national political rating agencies. A poll conducted in July and August by Dan Jones & Associates for UtahPolicy.com gave Love a 13-point lead over Owens.