Laura Seitz, Deseret News
FILE - Congresswoman Mia Love announces her goals for the next year and discusses her accomplishments thus far at the Capitol in Salt Lake City on Friday, Jan. 29, 2016.

SALT LAKE CITY — Jon M. Huntsman Sr. and Mitt Romney are among the leaders of Republican Rep. Mia Love's fundraising effort for her 2018 re-election bid, news that comes after Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams, a Democrat, got into the race.

Love, R-Utah, said in a statement she's confident her campaign will have the necessary resources to promote her record "as well as combat the expected attacks that will be coming from Democrats who do not want to see me in Congress."

McAdams announced last week he was going to run for the 4th District seat in Congress held by Love since 2014. The twice-elected mayor of the county that makes up most of the congressional district is not up for re-election until 2020.

This is the first time Love has had a formal finance committee, according to her campaign manager, Dave Hansen, although he said the co-chairmen and members have all supported her past campaigns.

"We decided to do it this time," Hansen said, adding the campaign is expecting "more work than name only" from the committee. "We were working on this even before word got out that Ben was interested."

Huntsman Sr. and Romney are among a list of co-chairmen that also includes Zions Bank President and CEO Scott Anderson, CEO Patrick Byrne, GOP fundraiser Scott Keller and Merit Medical Chairman and CEO Fred Lampropoulos.

Others on the finance committee include Romney's son, Josh, a possible candidate for governor in 2020, as well as a number of lobbyists including Utah Bankers Association President and CEO Howard Headlee.

"She's bringing out the big guns," said Chris Karpowitz, co-director of BYU's Center for the Study of Elections and Democracy. "I think this indicates they anticipate a significant challenge from Ben McAdams."

Karpowitz said McAdams will be a much tougher opponent than Love faced in the past.

In 2012, Love lost to Rep. Jim Matheson, the last Democrat to represent Utah in Congress. After Matheson retired, she defeated Democrat Doug Owens, son of the late Utah Congressman Wayne Owens, in 2014 and again in 2016.

"One way that incumbent members of Congress can ward off a challenge is by raising a large amount of money," Karpowitz said, with the help of "well-known and well-respected" backers. "This seems to me to be very much in that vein."

Love reported just under $311,000 in cash on hand as of Sept. 30 in her most recent campaign financial disclosure with the Federal Election Commission. But she spent about $294,000, about $37,000 more than she raised in the third quarter.

The congresswoman said she appreciated the finance committee's help.

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"I am very grateful to so many men and women who have stepped forward and offered to assist my campaign and fundraising efforts for the upcoming election," Love said.

McAdams' campaign manager, Andrew Roberts, said "the response to McAdams getting in the race has been overwhelming. People are responding to the mayor's bipartisan and positive message."

Roberts indicated money won't be an issue.

"We're confident we will raise the money we need to run a strong and successful campaign," he said.