Utah is considered one of the reddest states in the country, but one of its Congressional districts has just flipped blue after Rep. Mia Love (R-Utah) lost her bid for a third term.
After a tight contest for Utah’s 4th Congressional District, Rep. Love officially conceded the race on Monday to Democrat Ben McAdams — the mayor of Salt Lake County. According to Ballotpedia, the election was decided by less than 700 votes.
Following McAdams’ victory, Democrats have gained a net 39 seats in the 2018 midterm election. That’s nine more seats than Democrats won in the 2006 midterm election, which was considered a sweeping referendum on Republicans.
NEW: Rep. Mia Love concedes reelection race for Utah's 4th congressional district to opponent Ben McAdams, bringing Democrats’ net gain in the House for the 2018 midterms to 39 seats. https://t.co/NkJuIoh4fP pic.twitter.com/1NrPjOvbWd
— ABC News (@ABC) November 26, 2018
Mia Love was one of the most pro-Trump members of Congress, with FiveThirtyEight finding that she voted in line with President Trump’s policies approximately 96 percent of the time. Some of her more notable votes were in favor of the Republican tax cut package of 2017 and her more recent vote to make the individual tax cuts in that legislation permanent, as well as her vote for a resolution that celebrated the actions of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) while denouncing calls to abolish it.
In her first campaign for Congress, Mia Love proposed a federal budget that cut spending by approximately $750 billion, and largely targeted anti-poverty programs while leaving in place the costly 2017 tax cuts she supported that largely benefit the rich. The Salt Lake Tribune estimated that $2 billion of those cuts would directly affect poor Utahns.
[Love’s budget] would mean whacking more than $2 billion of federal spending in Utah, slashing food assistance for the poor, eliminating school lunch subsidies and wiping out special-education aid. She would end subsidized college loans like those she used herself when she earned her degree, and eliminate funds like those that were spent in the city she oversees as mayor, aimed at preventing homelessness.
In a recent conversation with the Tribune, McAdams said one of the first things he wanted to see addressed when the new Congress convenes in January is a fix for people in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program (also known as “Dreamers”), which President Trump has unsuccessfully tried to abolish. Many Dreamers have been left in legal limbo following an executive order from Trump rescinding the program, though a federal judge has ordered the administration to fully restore the program. McAdams is also in favor of expanding background checks for firearm purchases.
The fact that a Democrat is representing even one of Utah’s districts in 2019 is astonishing, given the state’s reputation as a Republican stronghold. A 2015 study from Gallup found that Utah was the second-most Republican state in the country behind Wyoming, with Republicans having an average electoral advantage of 33 points.
Carl Gibson is a politics contributor for Grit Post. His work has previously been published in The Guardian, The Washington Post, The Houston Chronicle, Al-Jazeera America, and NPR, among others. Follow him on Twitter @crgibs or send him an email at carl at gritpost dot com.