The national Republican Party was heavily involved and excited about her campaign, but it diverted her attention away from the district, Jowers said. For example, Love was the only candidate for major office in Utah to turn down an hourlong interview with the well-respected Doug Fabrizio on KUER Radio. She also campaigned for Romney in Ohio and Nevada.
"She needed more time with (KSL's) Rich Piatt and less time with (CNN's) Wolf Blitzer. That was a really big problem. You need to win the local race before you become national," Jowers said.
Love said she spent the majority of her time in the state.
"I was given an opportunity to raise Utah's voice on a national stage, and I did it because it's Utah's voice," she said. "I don't think anybody in this campaign or anywhere else would think that was a bad thing. It was me representing Utah in ways Utah hasn't been represented."
A parade of big-name Republicans, including former Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice and vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan, beat a path to Utah to raise funds for Love.
"She was maybe even hurt by the all-star group that came in on her behalf," Jowers said. "At some point, she may have lost a little bit of her own identity."
A National Republican Congressional Committee spokesman said Love was a great candidate who ran a great race.
"I think she created a lot of energy in the party and certainly in Utah," said Daniel Scarpinato, NRCC spokesman. "We ran a very aggressive campaign that we're proud of against Jim Matheson."
Scarpinato said the national committee came into 2012 with a plan to go on the offensive, not just defend the seats the GOP held in Congress.
"By being on the offensive, we disabled Democrats from being able to use their resources. We prevented them from spending resources elsewhere," he said.
The NRCC spent $1.7 million on anti-Matheson ads and was among two dozen outside groups that spent a total of $6 million against both candidates. Matheson and Love each raised more than $2 million themselves.
"Negative advertising hurt Love more than Matheson because voters know him and his family, so those ads don't ring as true," Jowers said.
Voters, he said, didn't know Love as well and were more prone to believe the negativity.
Jowers also credited Matheson for running a strong campaign. A mailer trying to show Matheson was more like Mitt Romney than Love seemed to be effective, he said.
"That's a bold move with some of the Democratic base who won't be thrilled with that. But it was a genius move to get those independents to move over," Jowers said.
Contributing: Lisa Riley Roche
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