SALT LAKE CITY — Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams is mulling a run for congressional office in Utah's 4th District in 2018.
"I've heard from many Utahns encouraging me to run for Congress," McAdams told the Deseret News on Saturday. "It is something I am seriously considering and am discussing with my family."
McAdams, a Democrat, didn't say when he would make a decision on the race, but "Utahns will be the first to know," he said via text message.
Utah's 4th District seat has been held since 2014 by Rep. Mia Love, a Republican. The district includes parts of Salt Lake, Utah, Sanpete and Juab counties.
Dave Hansen, political adviser and the congresswoman's campaign director the past two election cycles, said Love and McAdams get along "very well," but he declined to comment on what he called "speculations" of a political race between the two.
"The campaign hasn't started. She's being a member of Congress, doing her job there," Hansen said.
McAdams declined to answer questions Saturday about Love's performance in Congress.
Jason Perry, director of the Hinckley Institute of Politics at the University of Utah, said McAdams is known for having "support from both sides of the aisle." A broad coalition of support would be needed to beat Love, who has been garnering more and more of the vote in the 4th District every two years since being defeated by Democrat incumbent Jim Matheson in 2012, Perry said.
"It would take someone who can get Republicans and Democrats to vote for them to win that district," he said. "Every election so far, Mia Love has done better and better, and she is going to be strong in that role. For someone to mount a competitive campaign against her, they're going to have to be able draw Republicans and Democrats alike to their campaign."
Perry said it's too early to know what issues might become the focal points of a Love/McAdams race — and perhaps too early to assume Love, who "has a very bright political future as well," would be McAdams' opponent if he were to make it that far.
"We don't even know what Mia Love's plans are at this point," he said. "Every time she runs, she does better and better. She is very strong, and she herself is weighting her options. We're still a little ways out. A lot can happen."
Perry said McAdams is "well-known in Salt Lake County" and a "fairly well-known Democrat" in the state, but name recognition among voters "is something he'll work on from the very beginning if he decides to run."
"It's too early to tell how competitive that race will be. I can say we have a very popular Republican in Mia Love and a very popular Democrat in Ben McAdams, two people who have success to build on and promote, and these are two up-and-comers in both parties," he said.