Mia Love has returned to the political spotlight.
This up-and-coming mayor of Saratoga Springs, Utah drew national attention last year with her run for Congress against the incumbent, Democrat Jim Matheson. A Tea Party favorite, Love made her national debut with a speech at the 2012 Republican National Convention. Yet, even with fellow Mormon Mitt Romney at the top of the ticket in this red state of Utah, Love lost the race, albeit by 768 votes.
Love (no relation to the writer) announced she would once again run against Matheson, a centrist, in the 2014 race for the 4th District in the Salt Lake City suburbs. That district was created in 2010. The Matheson-Love rematch promised to be contentious, just as the first race was the most expensive in Utah history at a combined $11.2 million. But with Matheson, 53, now announcing he will not seek reelection, Mia Love is the odds on favorite to win the previously Democratic-leaning seat.
“Congressman Matheson has served our state with passion and has been a dedicated public servant during his tenure in Congress,” said Mayor Love. “His announcement today does not change my campaign to represent the people of Utah’s 4th congressional district. I wish Congressman Matheson the very best during his final year as Congressman.”
If elected to the House of Representatives, Ludmya “Mia” Bourdeau Love is poised to make history. She would become the first black Republican woman elected to the lower house, the first Haitian American to win a seat in Congress—she was born in Brooklyn, New York to Haitian immigrants—and the first person of color elected to that legislative body from the state of Utah. Utah has only elected three women to Congress, and is an overwhelmingly white state with a black population of only 1.3 percent.
After attending college in Connecticut, Love, who was Catholic, joined the Mormon Church and moved to Utah. She had met her husband, Jason Love, a white Mormon and a missionary, in Connecticut.
Further, Love, 38, would be the only black Republican member of Congress. There have been no black Republican Congressmen or women since January, when Rep. Allen West (R, Florida) lost his seat to Democrat Patrick Murphy, and South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley appointed Rep. Tim Scott to fill the seat vacated by Jim DeMint. Meanwhile, since 1900, only five black Republicans have served in Congress.
It is expected that this black woman with braided hair who is the daughter of immigrants would counter the narrative of the Republican Party as a whites-only club with policies that are unfriendly to people of color. The GOP has reportedly been eager to attract candidates such as Love.
“It’s really important that people know I’m here to listen to everybody’s voice — from Democrat to Republican and everything in between, because what’s happening in Washington right now is absolutely — it’s a disgrace,” said Love.
On her campaign website, Love runs on a platform of “fiscal discipline, limited government and personal responsibility.” Love is pro-life and pro-gun rights. She believes the federal government’s role in education has hurt students, opposes all net tax increases and supports corporate tax cuts, and “meaningful immigration reform.” Love is a dependable hard-right conservative who is against the Affordable Care Act—or Obamacare—though the candidate says she offers alternatives to the health care law. Recently, Love has received some attention for reportedly taking issue with the tactics leading to the Republican government shutdown, an apparent distancing from the tea party.
With regard to racial issues, Love said she was elected mayor with 60 percent of the vote and that people care about their lives and their back pockets than someone’s skin color. When asked in 2012 if she would join the Congressional Black Caucus, she told the Deseret News, ”Yes, yes. I would join the Congressional Black Caucus and try to take that thing apart from the inside out.”
“It’s demagoguery. They sit there and ignite emotions and ignite racism when there isn’t,” Love added. “They use their positions to instill fear. Hope and change is turned into fear and blame. Fear that everybody is going lose everything and blaming Congress for everything instead of taking responsibility.”
Follow David A. Love on Twitter at @davidalove