Last-minute spending by FreedomWorks, Democrats in Love-McAdams race



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SALT LAKE CITY — More money is pouring into Utah from out of state in the fiery 4th Congressional District race between Rep. Mia Love, R-Utah, and her Democratic challenger, Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams.

FreedomWorks, the Washington, D.C.-based tea party group that targeted Sen. Orrin Hatch in 2012, announced Monday Love's re-election bid will share in $270,000 being spent on 21 House races nationwide.

At the same time, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is set to drop around $250,000 on TV commercials aimed at helping McAdams that will begin running Tuesday.

A spokesman for the Democratic committee, Drew Godinich, confirmed the buy on Utah TV stations through the final week of the race but declined to comment on the content of the commercial.

The new spending is on top of more than $1.5 million in independent expenditures already going toward TV spots attacking both candidates in what is seen as the most competitive race in Republican-dominated Utah.

FreedomWorks press secretary Peter Vicenzi said the group is spending $2,500 not on TV, but on a new texting campaign using Utah activists to get out the vote for Love, its first independent expenditure in the Republican incumbent's race.

"She's a strong conservative, and we're doing everything we can in some of these close races to make sure Republicans hold on to their House majority," Vicenzi said. "We want to make sure she pulls through."

McAdams' campaign manager, Andrew Roberts, called FreedomWorks "an extreme inside Washington special interest group" that knows "nothing of Mayor McAdams' relationship with Utah voters or the issues that matter most to Utah families."

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Roberts said McAdams' campaign is "proud to have the support of Republicans, independents and Democrats in Utah who are responding to our bipartisan, get-things-done brand."

He said he's not paying much attention the Democratic campaign committee's efforts but is instead "focused on running our Utah-based grassroots campaign, with Utah contributions and Utah volunteers."

Love's campaign manager, Dave Hansen, tied the Democratic campaign committee's spending to House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi's political future. Pelosi is poised to once again become speaker if Democrats regain control of the House.

He said the committee "is doing everything they can to try to get Nancy Pelosi back in the speaker's chair. Utah voters don't want her there which is one of many reasons why voters of the 4th District will return Mia Love to Congress."

The involvement of FreedomWorks and the Democratic campaign committee comes as a new New York Times poll showed Love and McAdams are tied at 45 percent each with 9 percent undecided.

In the same New York Times poll conducted Oct. 24-26, just over half of respondents, 51 percent, said they wanted Republicans to maintain control of the House.

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An internal poll released by McAdams earlier this month gave him a 1-point lead, and the race has been rated a toss-up by the Cook Political Report, FiveThirtyEight and other independent entities.

Love first ran for the seat in 2012, losing to then-Rep. Jim Matheson, the last Democrat to serve in Utah's congressional delegation. After Matheson retired, Love went on to beat Democrat Doug Owens in 2014 and again in 2016.

FreedomWorks was a prominent player in the unsuccessful effort to defeat Hatch in 2012, pumping more than $600,000 into the race by March of that year and helping to force the longtime Utah Republican senator into a primary.

This election cycle, Vicenzi said FreedomWorks is involved in a lot more races around the country because "we need to maintain a Republican House majority so we can enact President Trump’s bold conservative agenda."

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Lisa Riley Roche

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