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Love, Owens take shots at each other in new TV ads

Love, Owens take shots at each other in new TV ads

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Estimated read time: 3-4 minutes

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SALT LAKE CITY — The 4th Congressional District race took on an even tougher tone Wednesday with the release of new television commercials by both Rep. Mia Love, R-Utah, and Democratic challenger Doug Owens.

Owens' new commercial questions more than $300,000 in tax dollars spent by Love on mass mailings to her district "to promote herself," noting it's more than twice as much as the other three members of Utah's congressional delegation combined.

The 30-second spot also refers to last year's controversy over Love using taxpayer funds to pay for a flight to Washington, D.C., for the White House Correspondents' Association annual dinner, money she repaid after the story surfaced.

Love, who already ran a commercial going after Owens for his involvement in the yearslong lawsuit over Legacy Parkway, has a new 20-second ad about Owens using his first name, Henry, when donating to Democratic presidential candidates.

"While Doug claims he's our side, Henry gives big donations to Washington, D.C., liberals," the narrator says, citing contributions to President Barack Obama and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Both campaigns said their own new commercials are fair and factual but criticized their opponent's claims.

Love's campaign manager, Dave Hansen, said the first-term congresswoman shouldn't be attacked for using her postage privileges to communicate with her constituents "in a legal and an approved way."

Hansen said the air travel at issue had simply not been charged to the appropriate account, and once it was pointed out, she chose to pay back the cost even though it was not clear it had to be reimbursed.


Owens' spokesman, Taylor Morgan, called it "desperate and ridiculous" to criticize Owens for using his full name when making campaign contributions.

"It's not like he's trying to hide anything," Morgan said. "His name is Henry Douglas Owens. Just like Mia's name is Ludmya Love. She doesn't use her full name with voters."

The commercials come as a second nonpartisan political ratings entity, University of Virginia professor Larry Sabato's Crystal Ball, had moved the race from a toss-up to "leans Republican." The Cook Political Report did the same earlier this month.

Love and Owens ran against each other in 2014 for the seat held then by the last Democrat to represent Utah in Congress, Rep. Jim Matheson, who had chosen not to seek an eighth term.

Owens, the son of late Congressman Wayne Owens, came within 5 percentage points of beating Love two years ago, but despite attracting more money and more national party resources this election has trailed Love in recent polling.

University of Utah political science professor Tim Chambless said the new commercials mark a "slight turn to the negative" in this year's rematch between Love and Owens.

Chambless said Utah voters want to see campaign advertising about public policy differences and a "focus on facts rather than implications." He said the new commercials "will be seen as very superficial."

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Lisa Riley Roche


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