Mia Love has launched an attack ad against Democrat Doug Owens, hitting him for his work to try and stop construction of the Legacy Highway in the early 2000’s.
The ad shows visuals of the Legacy Highway with a voice-over that says, “Thousands of commuters rely on this highway, but Doug Owens tried to stop it from being built.”
The ad then conjures up the ghost of Rocky Anderson, who led the charge against Legacy during the Leavitt administration.
“Owens teamed up with Rocky Anderson and a radical environmental group to sue Utah and stop the Legacy Highway in the middle of construction. Their delays cost Utah taxpayers millions of dollars. $92,000 per day wasted. 170 Utahns lost jobs.”
Love’s campaign manager, Dave Hansen, refuses to call the ad an attack ad. Instead, he says they’re just pointing out facts.
“We are just presenting the facts of his past experience and activity,” says Hansen. “That’s his last public experience, and this is what he did.”
Hansen says he’s not worried that dredging up an issue from a decade and a half ago won’t get traction with Utah voters.
“I think it resonates with people. He cost taxpayers dollars. He teamed up with Rocky Anderson and the Sierra Club to stop a highway that was needed at the time. In the end, they didn’t stop it at all and delay and increase the cost.”
According to the most recent polls, Love has anywhere between a 13 and a 19-point lead over Owens. Usually, campaigns don’t start attacking their opponents unless the polling shows a close race or that momentum is swinging in their favor. Hansen says that’s not the reason for the ad.
“We’re always worried. If you’re ever in a campaign and you’re not worried, then you’re in trouble. We feel comfortable and good. We basically feel that the public has a right to know.”
During the 2014 campaign, Owens closed the gap with Love late in the race. In early October, polling showed Love with a 9-point lead over Owens. That gap shrunk to just 5 points before election day.
When reached for comment about the new ad, Taylor Morgan, campaign spokesperson for Doug Owens, provided the following email statement.
“Mia Love’s campaign must be worried. They’re resorting to misleading, personal attacks straight out of the Washington, DC playbook. Doug Owens is running a different kind of campaign – one that is focused on solving problems and sharing a positive vision for Utah’s future.
“The facts on Legacy Highway are clear: Doug stood up to the federal government to protect Utahns rights, voices, and tax dollars when federal bureaucrats broke the law. The court ruled for Utah, and held the federal government responsible for the costs involved.”