Mia Love, Doug Owens spar during congressional debate
Posted October 10
SALT LAKE CITY — Republican U.S. Rep. Mia Love and Democrat Doug Owens sparred over their party's nominees for president and the congresswoman's use of U.S. House mailing privileges during their first and likely only debate this year.
Love, who is facing her first re-election campaign in Utah's 4th District, noted several times during Monday night's debate that she didn't go along with other members of her party by backing Donald Trump, who is unpopular with many Utah Republicans and Mormons.
Love has kept her distance from him this year, skipping the Republican National Convention in July, and on Saturday released a statement staying definitively that she would not vote for him following a 2005 video where the billionaire candidate made lewd, sexually charged comments about women.
Love said she also cannot vote for Hillary Clinton because she is untrustworthy and criticized Owens for saying he plans to vote for the former secretary of state. She said she's still evaluating third-party candidates.
Owens, a Salt Lake City attorney and son of former U.S. Rep. Wayne Owens, said that while he's voting for Clinton, he's not endorsing her because he has many disagreements with her.
He and Love are running to represent a Republican-leaning district that covers politically mixed Salt Lake City suburbs and north-central regions of the state and was held by a Democrat until 2014. Both candidates on Monday emphasized that they're able to work across the aisle and put politics aside.
Love touted the endorsement of Democratic Rep. David Scott of Georgia, while Owens positioned himself as a moderate and fiscal conservative.
Owens and Love also exchanged heated comments about Love's use of congressional mailing services to send $300,000 worth of mass mailers to her district. Owens said the mailers were self-promotional and a waste of money, noting that she spent more than Utah's other members of congress on similar mailers.
"I think tax dollars are sacred and that is a horrible use of money," Owens said.
Love defended the mail as a legal, practical way to communicate with her district and that her office saved money elsewhere.
"I'm proud of the fact that I use the budget to communicate as opposed to using the budget to have a massive amount of staffers," Love said.
They went back and forth over the issue several times and each used their time allotted to answer questions about education and gun violence to instead debate the use of the mailers.
Love and Owens also differed on climate change and raising the minimum wage.
Owens said there's strong evidence that humans are contributing to climate change, while Love repeatedly would not say whether she thinks people play a role. She said it's not important to ask what's causing climate change but the focus instead should be on trying to address the issue.
Love said opposes raising the $7.25 federal minimum wage, saying that puts a squeeze on employers and lead cause them to cut jobs.
Owens said raising the minimum wage "is a tough issue" and a "two-edged sword" but it's time to consider raising it.
When Owens ran two years ago, he put up a strong challenge to Love, who won 51 percent of the vote. As she tries to keep her seat, Love has outraised Owens in campaign contributions.
In her last fundraising reports released this summer, Love raised more than twice as much as Owens and had about $1.49 million to spend in the back half of 2016. Owens had about $890,000 at the end of June, though new fundraising reports are due Saturday.