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Did third-party candidate impact Matheson-Love outcome?

Published: Thursday, Nov. 8 2012 7:20 p.m. MST

Republican 4th Congressional District candidate Mia Love concedes the race and talks with supporters at the Hilton in Salt Lake City early Wednesday, Nov. 7, 2012.

Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY — Republicans aren't pleased with Jim Vein.

Some say the unheralded Libertarian candidate affected the outcome of the tight race between Democratic Rep. Jim Matheson and Republican Mia Love in Utah's new 4th Congressional District. Matheson won by fewer than 3,000 votes.

Also, a Democratic PAC hired a voter contact firm to call thousands of 4th District Republicans to tell them to forget about Matheson and Love and remember there is a third-party candidate.

Vein ended up with 5,703 votes or 2.6 percent of the total.

"I was trying to get in there to make a difference, to represent the people that needed representing, to be a voice for the people," he said. "I don't think it was really a spoiler role."

The 53-year-old Orem man ran his campaign on $200. He and two others knocked on doors, handed out fliers. He said many people he talked to were tired of Matheson and Love.

Dimitri Moumoulidis, a Democratic attorney who runs UTE PAC, isn't fan of Matheson or Love, either. The week before the election, his PAC paid Winning Connections, based in Washington, D.C., $10,500 to dissuade voters from both and consider Vein.

"It's well known I am a Democrat, but I've been very angry with Jim since his vote on the health care issue a couple of years ago," Moumoulidis said. "Mia Love is just a disturbing figure as far as I'm concerned."

There's no way to know why voters supported Vein or if they moved away from Matheson or Love based on the telephone calls.

"I like to believe that I in some way was able to affect some people. Who knows for certain?" Moumoulidis said.

Vein said Thursday he was unaware of the phone calls on his behalf.

"Nobody told me anything about that," he said. "That's very interesting."

Federal elections law prevent PACs from conferring or coordinating with candidates.

Vein doesn't know if the calls made a difference in the race. But he said he has received "nasty" emails from people who think his candidacy did.

"Thanks for running. You ruined a perfectly good Republican," one person wrote.

Vein said he heard a conservative political pundit on the radio say that he wanted to "knock my socks off" and called him a "loser-tarian."

"I was laughing. It was pretty bad that I made national radio. I was like, 'Well, sorry,'" Vein said. "I wonder how much more hate mail I'll get today."

Love campaign spokesman Ivan DuBois said Vein "clearly" had an impact on the outcome.

Matheson ended up with 49.3 percent of the vote to Love's 48.1 percent, a difference of 2,818 votes.

Provisional, mail-in and paper ballots totaling 64,184 in Salt Lake, Utah, Juab and Sanpete counties have yet to be counted, according to the state elections office. Parts of each of those counties make up the 4th District.

Other than in Utah County, how many of those ballots belong to 4th District voters is unknown, said Mark Thomas, state elections director. Utah County has 3,466 provisional and mail-in ballots, he said.

The outstanding ballots won't be tabulated until the Board of Canvassers meet in each county Nov. 20.

Thomas said it's unlikely the yet-to-be-counted votes would change the outcome.

The Love campaign has not publicly raised the possibility of a recount. DuBois said Love at this point want to ensure that every vote that was cast is counted.

E-mail: romboy@desnews.com Twitter: dennisromboy

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