November 06, 2014

Two Utah firsts

Tuesday night when I went to bed, Mia Love was trailing Doug Owens in Utah's fourth district congressional race. When I woke up Wednesday morning, she'd become the first ever black Republican woman in Congress.

From Utah, no less (according to the 2010 census, 1.1 percent black).

Love's political career began as mayor of Saratoga Springs, a town of 21,100 located at the northwest tip of Utah Lake. She came to national attention in 2012, when she addressed the Republican National Convention.

That year, despite the Utah legislature's best gerrymandering efforts, Love ran against political veteran Jim Matheson (son of the late Democratic governor) and lost.

After serving six terms, Matheson retired this year and passed the torch to Owens (like Matheson, the scion of an established political family). Owens did his level best to present himself as the most just-like-you family guy in Utah.

But the second time was the charm for Love. Republicans won by the expected landslides in Utah's other three districts. For the first time in decades, the Republican party holds all of the federal offices and the governorship.

Drawing in much of liberal (relatively speaking) Salt Lake City, the fourth remains Utah's only competitive district. So Love can expect a scrappy fight every two years.

Though that wasn't Utah's only political first Tuesday night. At the state level, Democrat Sandra Hollins was elected Utah's first ever black woman legislator.

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