Now inside a year of the next congressional election, the Jim Matheson and Mia Love camps are sparring, sparked by Love’s appearance at a rally for Senator Mike Lee.
At the invitation of of rally organizer and supporter Amelia Powers, Love joined Lee last week at the much-publicized rally at Riverfront West Park in South Jordan.
“Birds of a feather flock together,” Matheson said after learning of Love’s attendance. “Lee is a Tea Party person and so is Mia Love. These are views that are pretty far out there. She is one of the national Tea Party people that don’t reflect the values of Utah.
“My approach seems to have served me well in being elected seven times.”
Love’s campaign manager Dave Hansen offered pointed responses to Matheson’s critiques.
“The present congressman won’t meet with people, but Mia Love will,” Hansen said. “Matheson has not held an in-person town hall meeting in his district since 2007, except for tele-town hall meetings. It is disingenuous to criticize her meeting with people in her district when he has avoided since 2007 holding something as simple as a town hall meeting.”
Matheson said Love has revealed her political brand by throwing herself in with the right-wing crowd.
“Look, I think it is what it is,” Matheson said. “This is a movement that is losing steam both in Utah and across the country because it way beyond where we are in terms of politics.”
Hansen wasn’t pleased with that assessment. He said that she has served well as mayor of Saratoga Springs and seeks a variety changes in Washington. Hansen also said that Love has “support across the board” -- including from Republicans, Democrats and Independents -- but was not willing to mention specific individuals.
“We are not happy with the representation we are getting in the fourth district,” Hansen asserted. “By next year, voters and people will see she represents people in the majority of the district.”
Matheson said Love is further embracing the Tea Party by participating in events with retired congressman Allen West. West, a fellow African-American Republican, officially endorsed Love last month. He’s also raised money and campaigned for her, plus he’s coming to Utah next week to stump for her.
Hansen said Love is willing to accepts West’s support in Utah because he has a “tremendous military record.”
“It’s primarily a Veterans’ Day event,” Hansen said.
After the rally, Love invited Powers to be her special guest at West’s luncheon in Sandy. Three hours after telling UPD as much, Powers wrote on the Mike Lee rally Facebook event page that Love invited all rally supporters to the fundraiser, offering their ticket for $100, rather than $250. Lee will be an honorary co-chair.
“I am grateful that Mia Love showed her support at our event on Saturday when many others chose to stay away,” Powers wrote. “I live in the fourth district and am very excited to have Mia Love as my congresswoman.”
Powers invited attendees Ken Ivory, Dana Layton and Marc Roberts -- all Republican state legislators -- but did not invite any candidate except Love.