Analysis: Reducing Bears Ears could cause a political headache for Rep. Mia Love

U.S. Rep. Mia Love, who faces re-election next year, is on the opposite side from most of her constituents on whether GOP President Donald Trump should reduce the size of the newly-created Bears Ears National Monument and the 20-year-old Grand Staircase/Escalante National Monument, a new poll shows.

Love favors reduction or repeal of either or both monuments, most of her voters do not, a new Dan Jones & Associates poll finds.

Love represents the 4th District, which consists, generally, of the west/central part of Salt Lake County (south of Salt Lake City), the westside of Utah County, and parts of several smaller south/central counties.

While certainly Republican in voting, the 4th District historically has been more moderate on public lands issues (many of its residents recreate on those lands) than the state’s three other U.S. House districts. The 4th District does not include either of the monuments.

In a new survey, Jones finds that by 53-43 percent 4th District residents OPPOSE GOP President Donald Trump reducing the size of the Bears Ears.

By an even larger 57-39 percent, Love’s constituents oppose Trump reducing the size of the Staircase.

Should Trump do either, it could prove politically hazardous for Love to support him in doing so.

Her trouble is, she has already done that.

When Democratic President Barack Obama created Bears Ears last December, Love reacted swiftly with some harsh words for the president:

“By unilaterally designating the Bears Ears area of San Juan County a national monument, President Obama has undermined the economy and lifestyle of the people who live there, the religious interests of the Native Americans who reside in San Juan County, and ignored local


“Again behaving more like a dictator instead of a representative of people, he ignored Utah, which is united in opposition to this action.”

She went on to seemingly pledge to work to overturn that monument’s creation:

“I join our delegation, state officials and the people of Utah in the pledge to use every tool in our arsenal to undo what he (Obama) has done, and restore the blessings of freedom he wants so badly to remove from us in his final days.”

In a KSL TV story, she called for outright repeal of Bears Ears.

That is not where most of her constituents are today, Jones finds, at least on creation of the Bears Ears’ 1.3-million-acremonument.

In 2016, Love beat Democrat Doug Owens, 53.8 percent to 41.3 percent, with other candidates picking up the rest of the ballot.

She beat Owens in all four counties that make up the 4th District – even taking the Salt Lake County portion of the district, 114,981 to Owens’ 104,722.

In that election, Salt Lake County’s portion of the whole district made up 84 percent of the vote – so clearly she can’t ignore Salt Lakers’ opinions on Bears Ears and the Staircase.

Jones finds that in all of Salt Lake County, citizens oppose reducing Bears Ears, 57-39 percent; and oppose reducing the Staircase, 61-37 percent.

Those county numbers include liberal Salt Lake City folks’ views on the two monuments – and the city is not in the 4thDistrict.

Still, you see the trend – Salt Lake County is basically against reducing the size of either monument, and Love’s district is a big part of the county’s voters.

Back in the day, two former GOP U.S. House members who represented big slices of Salt Lake County – Enid Greene and Merrill Cook – often differed from the rest of the Republican congressional delegation on public land issues.

But so far, Love has walked lock-step with her delegation Republicans – even signing a delegation letter sent to Trump asking him to repeal Bears Ears, much less reduce its size – which is what a majority of her constituents oppose.

Asked for a comment on the new poll – and given the results – Love declined to address the issue of being on the wrong side of most of her voters.

Instead, through a spokesman, she said: “As I’ve pointed out in the past, Bears Ears and Grand Staircase/Escalante Monuments are both examples of shocking executive overreach and abuse of the Antiquities Act.

“The divisive situation we find ourselves in now could have been avoided if, from the start, Utahns had been involved in the decision making regarding these monuments.”

Statewide, Jones polled 608 adults from Aug. 30 to Sept. 5. That sample has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.97 percent.

Just in the 4th District, Jones polled 141 adults, the margin of error plus or minus 8.35 percent.