SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — U.S. Rep. Mia Love clashed with her Democratic challenger Monday as she defends her seat in a close race where suburban voters have been wary of President Donald Trump and national Democrats are hoping for a win in a push to regain control of the House of Representatives.
Challenger Ben McAdams said Love “votes on autopilot” with Republicans and Trump, while Love shot back that she stands up to the president more than other Utah Republicans on issues such as immigration.
“I don’t take my orders from anybody except for people of the 4th District,” said Love, who became the first black Republican woman in Congress in 2014.
The congressional district covers a chunk of the suburbs of blue-leaning Salt Lake City before stretching south along the Wasatch Front to more rural and conservative central Utah. Registered Democrats are outnumbered nearly 3 to 1 in the district, but independents also make up a large chunk of the electorate.
McAdams said he’s a moderate who wouldn’t vote for Nancy Pelosi and would work with Trump if it’s good for the state. If Democrats regain control of the House, he said Robert Muller’s investigation needs to be allowed to play out but spoke cautiously about any talk of impeachment.
Love, meanwhile, said he was “naive” to think Pelosi wouldn’t be re-elected as speaker of the House if Democrats regain control.
On immigration, Love also pointed to her backing of a discharge petition to force a vote on protections for young immigrants brought to the U.S. illegally as children. McAdams criticized her stance on so-called “Dreamers” as more talk than action.
“Words aren’t enough. Desires aren’t enough. Platitudes in an election year is not enough,” he said.
McAdams hit hard on his own support for health care, including a Medicaid expansion awaiting federal approval, and said he worried that Love’s ideas for Social Security would be bad for seniors. She dismissed the attack as “typical unfounded scare tactics,” though she said reforms involving younger people would be needed.
McAdams said he would support a medical-marijuana ballot proposal that’s drawn opposition from the Mormon church. Love wouldn’t say whether she will vote for it, but said she does support a new, church-backed compromise to allow it under strict regulations.
Both were critical of Trump’s tariff’s, with Love saying she doesn’t agree with his positions while McAdams called them “reckless.”
While Love said the GOP-backed tax cuts are good for the economy and families, McAdams blasted them as adding $1.9 trillion dollars to the national debt.
McAdams, who was elected mayor of Salt Lake County in 2012, is known for going undercover as a homeless person when the issue reached crisis mode downtown and pushing back against tax breaks for a now-scuttled Facebook data center.
Love, who had been mayor of Saratoga Springs and the daughter of Haitian immigrants, called out Trump when he used an expletive to describe Haiti and other countries.