SALT LAKE CITY — Rep. Mia Love had sharp words Thursday for her new Democratic challenger, saying Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams is looking to advance his career, not a political agenda.
The Republican congresswoman said she found it "really surprising" that McAdams jumped into the race, and that he expressed frustration that the federal government wasn't dealing with issues such as Medicaid.
Love said she has spoken to the county mayor many times and he has never brought that up.
"I would be willing to bet he's never even called his own congressman, Chris Stewart, on that issue either," she said on KSL Newsradio's "The Doug Wright Show."
The comment is a not-so-subtle dig at the fact that McAdams lives in Stewart's 2nd Congressional District, not the 4th District in which he is running against Love.
McAdams said he lives a block outside the boundaries but that as county mayor he represents about 85 percent of the district's residents.
"I've always said I'm in this to make difference, not to have a job," he said.
McAdams said he decided to run because of the federal government's inability to get things done. In Washington, he said, no one cares about anything but making the other side look bad.
McAdams touted his work with Republicans on homelessness in Salt Lake City as an example of reaching across the aisle.
"Everybody talks about bipartisanship. I've actually done it," he said.
Love scoffed at McAdams' talk of reaching across the aisle as a "great example of just a talking point because he has to remember who he's talking to."
The two-term congresswoman noted that she's the only Republican in the Congressional Black Caucus. The caucus is made of 49 House and Senate members, 48 of whom are Democrats.
"I would actually say good luck in getting that caucus to support somebody outside of me because we've worked so well together," she said.
Love also said she's the only member of the Utah delegation on the Climate Solutions Caucus and the only Republican to be endorsed by a Democratic member of Congress. Georgia Democratic Rep. David Scott donated $1,000 to Love's 2016 re-election campaign.
"So to be able to jump from your district, to come into this district and say I want to do all of these things, where I've been a prime example not just in what I say but in the results of what I do. … If you think about it, this is the seat that reaches across the aisle more than any other seat in the federal government, and it's not easy to do," she said.26 comments on this story
McAdams entering the race, Love said, is "just an opportunity to advance a career and not an actual agenda."
McAdams said he intends to run a positive, upbeat campaign focusing on his vision for the country. He'll bring out the orange bus he has used in past elections. He said it epitomizes people piling in and heading to the future together.
"That just communicates what I'm all about," he said.
In addition to McAdams, three other Democrats — Darlene McDonald, Tom Taylor and Marla Mott-Smith — have launched campaigns in the 4th District.