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Scott G Winterton, Deseret News
Mia Love, who is running in the 4th Congressional District, speaks at the GOP convention April 21, 2012. Ann Romney, Mitt Romney's wife, has endorsed Love in the race.

SALT LAKE CITY — Ann Romney endorsed Utah GOP congressional candidate Mia Love Friday, calling her "an example for Washington."

The endorsement is apparently the first for the wife of presidential candidate Mitt Romney, at least this election cycle. Their son, Josh, who lives in Millcreek, backed Love before she won her party's nomination at the state Republican convention in April.

Love is receiving national attention for her attempt to unseat six-term Rep. Jim Matheson, the only Democratic member of Utah's congressional delegation. If Love succeeds, she would become the first African-American Republican woman in Congress.

Ann Romney's endorsement cited Love's record in Saratoga Springs government, first as a councilwoman and now as mayor.

"Women across the country are concerned for our children's futures," Ann Romney said. "Will our children be able to find jobs and will they be faced with burdensome debt? Mia's record of reducing spending and making government more accountable to the taxpayers should be an example for Washington. With leaders like her, we can help ensure that our children and grandchildren have bright futures."

Love said she was honored to have Ann Romney's support.

"She understands the importance of fostering an environment for job creation and making government more responsible. These are the same principles that I have fought for as mayor and as a councilwoman, and they are the same principles that I will bring to Washington."

Love and Matheson are squaring off in the state's new congressional district, which includes portions of Salt Lake and Utah counties. Matheson is currently representing the 2nd District.

A Deseret News/KSL-TV poll released last week put Matheson ahead of Love among 4th District voters, 53 percent to 38 percent. The Dan Jones & Associates poll had a margin of error of plus or minus 5.1 percent.

University of Utah political science professor Tim Chambless questioned why Ann Romney rather than her husband was making the endorsement. Mitt Romney backed Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, in advance of Hatch's successful primary election Tuesday.

He suggested Ann Romney's endorsement of a fellow member of the LDS Church could be an attempt to address any concerns among voters about Love running for Congress as the mother of young children.

"It's an example of a woman who's highly prominent who's saying it's okay, you can be a woman candidate with three small kids," Chambless said. "The question is to what extent Ann Romney has political coattails."

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