While it’s still an uphill climb for Utah Democrats, the Cook Political report says Ben McAdams has a chance to win the seat currently held by Mia Love.
The Cook Report shifted their rating of CD4 from “Solid Republican” to “Likely Republican,” primarily because McAdams, who has been mulling getting in the race next year, would be a formidable opponent for Love. McAdams has a chance at winning because Love has been unable to solidify her control of the seat.
In her first run for Congress in 2012, Love underperformed GOP nominee Mitt Romney by 19 points and lost by less than 1,000 votes. In 2016, she outperformed Donald Trump by 15 points and won reelection with 54 percent. Although Love has worked hard to change her initial reputation as a spotlight seeker, she still hasn’t put this overwhelmingly GOP seat away. And, Trump’s unpopularity in Utah could keep Democrats in the game.
In a major coup for Democrats, Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams is on the verge of running against Love. McAdams, 42, won the top county office in 2012 and 2016 and already represents 85 percent of UT-04 (although UT-04 is much more Republican than the county). McAdams has built a unique brand as a wonky, nerdy Mormon Democrat, raised over $1 million in past races and cultivated relationships with Republican mayors.
McAdams, an attorney, will likely focus on local needs like transportation and infrastructure funding and paint Love as an inaccessible obstructionist who has sided with the Tea Party over Salt Lake’s business community on issues like reauthorization of the Export-Import Bank. His allies contend he’ll be harder to pigeonhole as “Nancy Pelosi’s dream” than Love’s previous opponents because voters already know him as a pragmatist.
However, McAdams’s most press-worthy episode of 2017 could cut both ways. In March, McAdams’s consideration of several possible suburban sites for new homeless shelters drew intense ire at town hall meetings. Later, it was revealed McAdams had been moved to act on the issue after posing as a homeless person and living in a particularly distressed shelter for three days and two nights. Keep an eye on this race.