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Ben McAdams claims victory over Mia Love in Utah's 4th Congressional District

MILLCREEK — Democratic Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams claimed victory over Republican Rep. Mia Love Monday night after new Salt Lake County results showed her trailing by 739 votes in the 4th Congressional District race.

"I'm eager to get to work," McAdams said, surrounded by his family at a hastily called news conference held at his Millcreek campaign headquarters. "We are confident there is no way Rep. Love will retake the lead."

He said he has not yet tried to contact the two-term congresswoman.

"I do want to give her the space," McAdams said, anticipating her campaign wanted time to review the numbers released Monday evening. "I think she's entitled to that and so I hope to talk to her maybe tomorrow."

But he did, in his words, "take a moment to acknowledge and thank my opponent, Rep. Mia Love, for her service to our state. I think it's time now for us to put partisanship behind us, and the election behind us."

Love issued a statement more than an hour after McAdams' news conference that did not mention conceding, although there is an expectation that could come Tuesday.

"I would like to express my sincere appreciation to the voters, who along with our family, have been waiting for two weeks to get election results. Thank you for your continued participation in the process," Love said.

A spokeswoman for the Love campaign, Sasha Clark, said that was the only statement being issued Monday night. She said Love is out of state for the Thanksgiving holiday.

Although winning candidates usually speak to the loser in the race before delivering a victory speech, McAdams said this race was different.

"Traditionally we don't wait until two weeks after the election" for votes to be counted, he said. "We have looked at the numbers and the number of votes that are outstanding and we are confident at this point in the results of this election."

Democratic Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams smiles as he declares victory over GOP Rep. Mia Love in the 4th Congressional District during a press conference at his campaign headquarters in Millcreek on Monday, Nov. 19, 2018.

Steve Griffin, Deseret News

Democratic Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams smiles as he declares victory over GOP Rep. Mia Love in the 4th Congressional District during a press conference at his campaign headquarters in Millcreek on Monday, Nov. 19, 2018.

His declaration of victory comes the day before counties are set to certify results of the Nov. 6 election.

With the new numbers from Salt Lake County, Love has 134,151 votes to 134,890 for McAdams throughout the district, which includes portions of Salt Lake and Utah counties as well as Juab and Sanpete counties.

Earlier Monday, Love had gained 2,224 votes in the conservative stronghold of Utah County to 1,127 for McAdams, expanding the lead she first took over McAdams on Friday from 419 votes to 1,516 in the district.

McAdams, who spent last week in Washington, D.C., attending the orientation for new members of Congress, tweeted midday Monday that clerks from Salt Lake and Utah counties "are working around the clock" to get votes counted accurately.

He said in his tweet, "Whatever the outcome, thank you! However, can we change the load screen on the county clerk's page from 'Election Night Reporting' to 'Election Month Reporting?'"

Democratic Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams stands with his family as he declares victory over GOP Rep. Mia Love in the 4th Congressional District during a press conference at his campaign headquarters in Millcreek on Monday, Nov. 19, 2018.

Steve Griffin, Deseret News

Democratic Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams stands with his family as he declares victory over GOP Rep. Mia Love in the 4th Congressional District during a press conference at his campaign headquarters in Millcreek on Monday, Nov. 19, 2018.

Scott Hogensen, Utah County chief deputy clerk auditor, said Monday's release was the last before counties certify election results on Tuesday. He said "not much" remains to be counted other than any ballots that show up in the mail.

The same is true for Salt Lake County, which included the results from some 16,000 provisional ballots in Monday's results. But longtime Salt Lake County Clerk Sherrie Swensen said there will be more results included in Tuesday's canvass.

The state has scheduled the final vote canvass for Nov. 26. Utah has no automatic recount law, but candidates who lose by 0.25 percent or less can request that the ballots be recounted at that point.

McAdams said he was confident not only that Love would not win in a recount, but also that the race would not get close enough for her to request one after any additional ballots are counted.

Love has already challenged Salt Lake County's vote-counting process, which is overseen by Swensen, a Democrat, but the lawsuit was dismissed the day after it was heard in 3rd District Court last week.

Democratic Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams enters a press conference where he declared victory over GOP Rep. Mia Love in the 4th Congressional District at his campaign headquarters in Millcreek on Monday, Nov. 19, 2018.

Steve Griffin, Deseret News

Democratic Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams enters a press conference where he declared victory over GOP Rep. Mia Love in the 4th Congressional District at his campaign headquarters in Millcreek on Monday, Nov. 19, 2018.

The issue raised by Love's attorneys during the hearing was how the county matched voter signatures. Voters had until 5 p.m. Monday to respond to questions raised about their signatures by the clerk's office.

Love lost her first bid for the seat in 2012 by 768 votes to the last Democrat to represent Utah in Congress, former Rep. Jim Matheson. After Matheson retired two years later, Love went on to win the seat in 2014 and again in 2016.

The Love-McAdams race drew millions of dollars in attack ads into Utah, and both campaigns ran negative TV commercials. McAdams said he hopes they can be friends now that the race is over.

"I'm willing to let it go. I was really disappointed with the tenor of the campaign and the tone of the campaign that she set. But really, at the end of the day, this is not about Republicans or Democrats. It's about Utah and this country coming together."

He thanked his family as well as his campaign's more than 1,000 volunteers for their efforts, saying they knocked on 250,000 doors and made 100,000 phone calls "to swing this race."

Democratic Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams stands with his family as he declares victory over GOP Rep. Mia Love in the 4th Congressional District during a press conference at his campaign headquarters in Millcreek on Monday, Nov. 19, 2018.

Steve Griffin, Deseret News

Democratic Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams stands with his family as he declares victory over GOP Rep. Mia Love in the 4th Congressional District during a press conference at his campaign headquarters in Millcreek on Monday, Nov. 19, 2018.

Calling the race "a roller coaster ride," McAdams said having his children see the attack ads against him was hard, but brought his family closer together.

His first order of business, he said, will be to hold a town hall meeting, likely after the holidays in January, to hear from constituents about what they want him to do in Washington.

He has already signed a letter along with 15 Democratic House members pledging to vote against House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi becoming House speaker when Democrats take over control in January.

During the campaign, McAdams had promised he would not support the California Democrat as speaker, but Love repeatedly told voters voting for him was a vote for Pelosi.

"I think it shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone," he said of signing the letter. "It's a committment that I made to the voters of Utah's 4th Congressional District. I also think it's the right thing. I think it's time for new leadership in Washington."

McAdams described his first week of congressional orientation as "fairly mundane," focused on filling out paperwork and hearing about how to hire a staff. Still, he said it "was important to prepare for the scenario that I might be elected."

He said he looks forward to working with the rest of Utah's congressional delegation, who are all Republicans.

"First and foremost, I'm on Team Utah," McAdams said. "I'm going to put Utah first."