SALT LAKE CITY — A small town mayor aimed to make history Tuesday by attempting to unseat the state’s only Democratic representative in Washington in the highest profile of Utah’s four congressional races.
However, she came up about 3,000 votes short.
Republicans easily beat their Democratic opponents in the state’s three other districts, while six-term Democrat Jim Matheson fought off a stiff challenge from Republican Mia Love to represent Utah’s newly created District 4.
The 36-year-old Saratoga Springs mayor has seen boosts in recent polls, buoyed by her prime-time speaking slot at the Republican National Convention and endorsements and fundraising help from Ann Romney, GOP Arizona Sen. John McCain and former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.
Matheson, 52, took a chance at running in the new, more urban district, rather than his sprawling, remapped District 2 that covers most of southwest Utah, and his political career is on the line.
Love, a Mormon and the daughter of Haitian immigrants, would have become the nation’s first black GOP woman in Congress. The married mother of three made fiscal discipline and personal responsibility hallmarks of her campaign, painting Matheson as part of the Washington problem and a loyalist of President Barack Obama.
Matheson, a fiscally conservative "Blue Dog" Democrat, has voted against health care reform, but for the federal stimulus bill. He seized on Love’s inexperience, ridiculing a long list she floated of federal programs to slash, including federal college aid.