GOP nominates 2nd, 4th congressional candidates with love and rancor

Governor Gary Herbert, most others avoid June runoff

Published: Saturday, April 21 2012 10:16 p.m. MDT

Mia Love who is running in the 4th Congressional District speaks at the GOP convention Saturday, April 21, 2012 in the South Towne Exposition Center.

Scott G Winterton, Deseret News

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SANDY — Utah Republicans fell in love with one congressional candidate and waged a nasty battle over another one at the GOP state convention Saturday.

Saratoga Springs Mayor Mia Love won the hearts and minds of delegates at the state GOP convention, and secured the party's nomination for the 4th Congressional District seat in the process.

And pilot and author Chris Stewart fought his way to the nomination in the 2nd District amid accusations he was a "bald-faced liar" over confusing allegations about backroom dealings.

Neither will face a primary election.

Love fired up the nearly 4,000 delegates at the South Towne Expo Center more than any candidate all day with an impassioned speech aimed at Washington in general and Democratic Rep. Jim Matheson specifically.

"Jim Matheson should be pretty scared right now. We're going to send him home. It's time," Love said after winning 70.5 percent of the delegate vote over former state legislator Carl Wimmer in the second round of voting. Candidates Stephen Sandstrom, Jay Cobb and Kenneth Gray were eliminated after the first ballot.

"He's never been up against a candidate like me," she said, extolling her record as mayor. But that's not all that sets her apart.

"I know where you're trying to go with that. Let's just be honest here. Saratoga Springs doesn't have the best bond rating because I'm black and female. That didn't happen. It's because of the policies we put in place."

Matheson dismissed Love's tough talk. "I don't think that's what this is about. I actually have a lot of confidence," he said late Saturday. "From what I've seen from my opponent, she is way out there on some of her positions."

And not all Republicans were enamored of Love, at least in the heat of the moment.

In introducing Wimmer before the second round of voting with Love, Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff said the party needs a leader not a "novelty."

Afterward, Shurtleff said it was a terrible choice of words and "it breaks my heart." He said he apologized to Love.

Love declined to comment on Shurtleff's remark. "It's time for us to start uniting as Republicans all together, to get something done," she said.

A disappointed Wimmer threw his support behind Love, but didn't rule out a future run for office. "We ran a great race," he said. "We worked harder than anyone. It just didn't go our way."

The 2nd District race turned heated in the speeches before the first round of voting, with Eureka Mayor Milt Hanks decrying what said was an attack on Stewart by other candidates.

Hanks said the party needs to get away from what he called the "hog trough of backroom deals and backstabbing," receiving a standing ovation from many delegates.

Later, before the second round of voting, another candidate, Chuck Williams, accused Stewart of being a "bald-faced liar." Williams, Cherilyn Eager and Howard Wallack all withdrew their names and endorsed Clark.

But in the end, the delegates backed Stewart, giving him nearly 62 percent of the vote in a final round against Clark.

Gil Miller, a Kaysville city councilman and 2nd District delegate, said the delegates "had had enough of the theatrics."

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