Healthcare law key to Love’s Utah rematch

Utah House candidate Mia Love (R) plans to make repealing ObamaCare the centerpiece of her 2014 campaign — even though her opponent, Rep. Jim Matheson (D-Utah), voted against the healthcare law’s initial passage.

Love, who last year lost to Matheson in Utah’s 4th District by just 768 votes, is aiming at her opponent over his refusal to vote for repeal of the healthcare law on one occasion in 2011.

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“Matheson voted against the repeal of ObamaCare — January 2011, H.R. 2, he voted against the repeal of ObamaCare,” she told The Hill in an interview at the National Republican Congressional Committee offices.

“As much as he’d like to run away from that, he can’t run away from that. That was his vote on the floor … When we really needed him, when Utah really needed him before it went to the Supreme Court, we couldn’t count on his vote.”

Matheson is one of the few Democrats from heavily Republican districts who held on in 2010 after the passage of the Affordable Care Act.

Most other Democrats — including nearly all of those who voted against ObamaCare — lost their reelections.

In an interview, Matheson told The Hill that Love is “really grasping at straws” in attacking him over ObamaCare.

“I’ve consistently been against this bill. I’ve had problems with this bill over time, since we first discussed it in committee, and my voting record shows that,” he said.

“I voted for repeal every time other than when the ball was in the Supreme Court’s hands that one time, and I thought we should hear from them. … There are different branches of government. I understand that. Maybe she doesn’t. They all have their role to play.”

Matheson has held on to his seat for years by routinely bucking his party and portraying himself as a centrist compromiser.

But Love, the mayor of the small town of Saratoga Springs, believes focusing on ObamaCare will bring her victory next year.

“This is a major issue for the people of Utah. So defunding it, getting rid of it, is a priority,” Love says of the law, which has been plagued by a botched rollout.

“At the very least, at the very minimum, we need to stop everything, hold off on everything. It’s not working right now. And at least do what we can to move it to a free market, fix some of the problems with our healthcare.”

Love has hired a new staff, including the man who ran Sen. Orrin Hatch’s (R-Utah) successful primary last election, and has zeroed in on fundraising and field operations, posting big numbers.

She has been spending heavily, too. Love attributes that to direct-mail fundraising, a high-cost but high-reward approach, and to the campaign’s field efforts.

“Our mail and getting our message out is costing a lot of money,” she said.

Love bristled when asked her thoughts about Republicans’ push to defund ObamaCare, which led to the government shutdown. Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) was a leader in that effort.

“I support what Mike Lee was trying to do in defunding Obama
Care,” she said.

“I would have voted with the rest of the Utah delegation to keep the government running while defunding ObamaCare. That’s important to Utah. These are conversations people are having at the kitchen table, including me.”

Later, when the subject was brought back up, Love said she opposed threatening to shut down the government in upcoming budget negotiations in order to cut back on ObamaCare.

“I don’t think it should be tied to shutting down government. We ended up hurting a lot of national parks [in the October shutdown],” Love said.

“I want to be very clear that I support Mike Lee in his efforts to defund ObamaCare. Now understand, Mike Lee wanted to keep government running, it was the Senate that refused to keep government running while defending ObamaCare. Would I have done things a little differently? Probably. But I support Mike Lee and what he’s trying to do.”