Defeated Congresswoman Mia Love Has Some Parting Words For The GOP

Mia Love, recently narrowly defeated in her bid for re-election, has some parting words for her party. They probably won't listen, but they should.

Congresswoman Mia Love, who recently lost her bid to win re-election to hear Utah Congressional seat in a closely fought race with the Democratic Mayor of Salt Lake City, issued a sharply worded rebuke to President Trump as she begins making her way out the door:

Days after losing her re-election bid in deep red Utah, Representative Mia Love, the only black Republican woman in Congress, condemned President Trump on Monday in a scathing concession speech, describing him as having “no real relationships, just convenient transactions.”

She used similar language to attack her own party, accusing Republicans of having a “transactional” relationship with minority and black voters.

Ms. Love, who was elected to Congress in 2014 and had been viewed as a rising Republican star, lost her election by less than a percentage point to Ben McAdams, the Democratic mayor of Salt Lake County. Her defeat — in a district that Mr. Trump carried in 2016 by seven percentage points — handed Democrats another seat in the House of Representatives, giving the party 38 additional seats in the midterm elections and helping them take control of the chamber.

Ms. Love’s harsh words for Mr. Trump came in response to remarks the president made about her nearly three weeks ago: During a televised news conference the day after Election Day, Mr. Trump mocked the congresswoman for losing her race even as the votes were still being tallied.

“Mia Love gave me no love, and she lost,” Mr. Trump said. “Too bad. Sorry about that, Mia.”

Democrats had tried to portray Ms. Love as a Trump loyalist. But during her campaign, she had not enlisted the president’s help and had spoken out against him.

In her concession speech on Monday, Ms. Love said she was initially surprised by Mr. Trump’s “jab” at her.

“The president’s behavior toward me made me wonder, what did he have to gain by saying such a thing about a fellow Republican? It was not really about asking him to do more, was it? Or was it something else? Well, Mr. President, we’ll have to chat about that,” she said.

“However,” she added, “this gave me a clear vision of his world as it is: no real relationships, just convenient transactions.”

Ms. Love, the daughter of Haitian immigrants and the only Republican woman in the Congressional Black Caucus, also criticized Republicans for how they interact with minority voters.

“This election experience and these comments shines a spotlight on the problems Washington politicians have with minorities and black Americans — it’s transactional. It’s not personal,” she said. “We feel like politicians claim they know what’s best for us from a safe distance yet they’re never willing to take us home.”

“Because Republicans never take minority communities into their home and citizens into their homes and into their hearts, they stay with Democrats and bureaucrats in Washington because they do take them home, or at least make them feel like they have a home,” she added.

Writing at The Week, Ed Morrissey argues that Republicans and conservatives ought to take Love’s warnings seriously:

Love hits the nail on the head. She echoes what a number of minority voters told me when I started field research in key swing counties for the 2016 election while writing my book, Going Red. Republicans would open an office and hire someone to talk to the people in minority neighborhoods a few months before an election, then as soon as the voting ended, pack up and decamp.

The problem, as the thoughtful and concerned citizens of these communities told me, wasn’t so much that Republicans “never take minority communities into their home,” but that they don’t make minority communities their home in the first place. Former GOP Florida Rep. Shawn Harrison related how election consultants pushed him to ignore minority communities as hopelessly Democratic, and how that cost him a re-election bid in 2012. African-American conservatives in places like Wake County, North Carolina, said that while they often felt Democrats took them for granted, at least Democrats try to participate in their communities, whereas Republicans abandon them entirely.

The 2018 midterms show what happens when Democrats show up to vote: They outperform Republicans, even in red districts. Base-turnout strategies only take either party so far in general elections, but they take Democrats further, thanks to the party’s sustained registration advantages. Trump managed to win in 2016 without a campaign strategy to improve this failing on behalf of the GOP. However, he won those blue-wall states not because he significantly expanded the Republican voter footprint, but because Hillary Clinton failed to turn out Democratic voters, falling well below the turnout for Barack Obama four years earlier.

There are only two ways for Republicans to win general elections: The first relies on Democrats nominating incompetent candidates, which certainly could happen again — although it seems unlikely they will give Clinton another shot. The second requires Republicans to do the hard work of becoming part of new and broader communities to both build credibility and make their agenda relevant to those voters. Until Republicans demonstrate some love for these voters beyond sloganeering, Mia Love’s warning will prove all too prescient.

When it comes to Love herself, there are other factors at play that go a long way toward explaining her loss, but that does not diminish the fact that, as Morrissey says, her overall warning to the GOP is well-placed and ought to be taken to heart. Love first ran for the seat that she lost earlier this month in 2012 when it was represented by long-standing Democratic incumbent Jim Matheson. Almost as soon as she won the GOP nomination, Love became something of a national celebrity on the right. As a result, she found herself invited to a number of national conferences, included the Conservative Political Action Conference held that year, where I briefly met her and heard her speech to the crowd. For a candidate whose only previous political experience was as Mayor of a city in Utah, she came across as well-informed, well-spoken, and energetic, seemingly the perfect Republican candidate in a red state like Utah. Notwithstanding this, and notwithstanding the fact that she happened to be running in the same year that Mitt Romney was on the ballot, Love narrowly lost the race, and many observers on the ground commented that part of the reason for her loss was because she didn’t spend enough time in the district campaigning. Two years later, Love again won the GOP nomination and, this time didn’t make the mistakes she had in 2012 and managed to pull off a win. She was easily re-elected in 2016, but this year she faced a challenge from Ben McAdams, the equally popular Mayor of Salt Lake County, a jurisdiction with a population of roughly 1,000,000 people. McAdams was able to use that popularity to pull off a narrow win over Love that leaves open the possibility that she will try to make a comeback in 2020.

Like many Republicans in Utah, Love tended to keep her distance from President Trump due in no small part that, notwithstanding the fact that it is strongly Republican, Utah has never been Trump country due to the fact that most of the state’s Mormon population strongly disapprove of Trump’s personal behavior. As was the case with other prominent Utah Republicans such as Senator-Elect Mitt Romney, Love did not endorse Trump in 2016 and largely spent the first two years of his Administration keeping her distance from him as much as possible. One of the main reasons for this, of course, is the fact that the state’s Mormon population had significant doubts about Trump to the point where he failed to win a majority of the vote in the state and that conservative Independent Evan McMullin, won more than 21% of the vote.

In reality, it is unlikely that Republicans and conservatives will take Love’s words to heart even after a midterm election that was clearly a repudiation of Trump, his political style, and the policies that he has attempted to get enacted. Additionally, her points about the failure of Republicans to adequately address the concerns of minorities are so seemingly obvious that it barely needs to be argued. In this case, though, it seems clear that the GOP has hitched its star to the idea that it can continue to win elections by appealing almost exclusively to the white working-class voters that turned out for Trump in 2016. As has been noted before, though, this is a risky strategy both because this same voting group has voted Democratic in the past, most notably for Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012, and because it is a progressively smaller part of the overall population and the voting age population. These two factors make it clear that Republicans are essentially doomed unless they find ways to win outside of the white identity politics that they have embraced in the era of Trump. Whether they realize that or not is another question.

 

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2018, Congress, Donald Trump, Politicians, US Politics,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. Kathy says:

    Do you ever play video poker? There’s a variety of games with different pay tables, but they can all be analyzed precisely, and that analysis yields a strategy for each. This work has been done, and you find the strategies online.

    Well, in one of the more common games, Jacks or Better (JoB), if you get A,2,3,5,K, for example, you do not hold the inside straight (A,2,3,5), even if the cards are all the same suit. You keep the King and Ace instead. If you play the right strategy, and you have a decent pay table (which are getting too rare these days), you’ll lose less in the long term(*).

    What happens is people will hold the inside straight, and sometimes they’ll hit it (I hit my first Royal holding the wrong cards by mistake; it happens), forgetting the times it didn’t hit, or overestimating how often it does hit.

    It’s the same in politics. You may lose with a strategy favored by the odds, and win with one against the odds. It happens. And electoral wins can have consequences for years after they occur (see the current mess at the White House). But it won’t happen consistently, and won’t gain you much in the way of long term support.

    (*) If you find a machine with a positive pay table (100.01% return or higher), you can win consistently. I’ve done it with a nickel 100.6% deuces wild machine at The D in Vegas. These machines, though, are an endangered species. Most of the rare survivors are high limit, $2 or above, which require a substantial bankroll (you win consistently in the long term, but there is much variance).

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  2. OzarkHillbilly says:

    the white identity politics

    Thank you for this, Doug.

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  3. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Kathy: Only a fool draws to an inside straight. I have often referred to trump’s electoral victory as the equivalent of drawing to an inside straight while playing roulette. Which is just to say that if people think he can thread that particular needle a 2nd time, I’ve got a bridge to sell.

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  4. Rick Zhang says:

    Doug. A correction. He’s the mayor of Salt Lake County, not city.

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  5. Kathy says:

    @OzarkHillbilly:

    Only a fool draws to an inside straight.

    Only a fool walks into a casino expecting to win at a VP machine with a 97% payoff. And don’t get me started about the sucker bets people make on craps.

    In fairness, it’s also the ignorant who do these things. I like to believe a majority of people will stay away from hop bets, Big 6, Big 8, inside straights, etc. if they are told why these are bad bets.

    That said, in the bubble craps machines I’ll sometimes place hop bets if the mood strikes me, because it’s easier than at a table with a live dealer. In my defense, it’s only for the thrill, with full awareness they’re bad bets (and I’ve never bet Big 6/8).

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  6. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Kathy: I make bets, but I never gamble. Which is just another way of saying, you’ll never see me playing by house rules.

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  7. mattbernius says:

    Commentary Magazine has a good short follow-up analysis backing up Love’s suggestions:

    https://www.commentarymagazine.com/politics-ideas/mia-love-is-right-about-conservatisms-minority-problem/

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  8. James Pearce says:

    Former GOP Florida Rep. Shawn Harrison related how election consultants pushed him to ignore minority communities as hopelessly Democratic, and how that cost him a re-election bid in 2012.

    This idea that “minority communities are hopelessly Democratic” is poison.

    It allows Republicans to ignore them completely –on advice!– and it allows Dems to soak up minority votes while doing very little for minority communities. Minority communities are vital to American society and should be treated as such by both parties. It should not be “transactional” at all.

    Thought this was interesting, though:

    The 2018 midterms show what happens when Democrats show up to vote: They outperform Republicans, even in red districts.

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  9. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Kathy: At craps, I only bet when I’m rolling, and even then I prefer to use my special “no spots” dice. (They’re very lucky, and I’ve had them so long the spots are worn off. Fortunately, I memorized where all the spots were, so I still know what I rolled.)

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  10. Michael Reynolds says:

    Ms. Love will be ignored and she should be. There is no place in the white supremacist Republican Party for black candidates or black voters and she was a bloody fool to think there was. Now, belatedly, and only after failing to be granted a return power, she discovers there’s a problem between Republicans and minorities. You know, like there has been since the 1960’s.

    Every demographic group is entitled to its fools, and African-Americans are no exception. But that’s all Ms. Love is: a fool.

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  11. gVOR08 says:

    Another installment of It Ain’t Just Trump, It’s the Republicans. Republicans were ignoring minorities, except for dogwhistle racism and vote suppression, long before Trump, and will continue long after Trump is gone. Rs, having no empathy, thought they could sell minorities on their econ and family values. The rest of the world knows their econ is BS, as are their family values.

    Perhaps coming from an immigrant family excuses some ignorance of how things work here. But how could an adult black woman not realize that her value to the Republican Party was as a token? A purely transactional relationship before Trump.

    I’d like a dime bag of whatever Morrissey smokes. The agenda of the Republican Party is the agenda of the Kochs and Mercers who are paying the bills. The only way for them to get elected is to pitch racism to their base. If they become inclusive they lose even the rural, southern rump they have left.

    GOPus delendus est.

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  12. DrDaveT says:

    @Kathy:

    And don’t get me started about the sucker bets people make on craps.

    Hey, it’s better than Keno. I used to make my students compute the odds and long-term payout for Keno (using an actual Keno card scarfed from a table in a Las Vegas diner) as a homework problem(*). They were always sure they’d done it wrong, because the house edge was more than 25%, and who would play such a biased game?

    (*)It’s a great problem because not only do you need to understand the hypergeometric distribution, you also have to have a way to compute terms that involve factorials of numbers as large as 80. At the time I was teaching, none of the computers available to the students could do that using the canned factorial function or a naive subroutine that just multiplies all the numbers together.

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  13. Kathy says:

    @DrDaveT:

    Everything inside the casino is better than Keno, even the airport penny slots. Outside the casino there are worse bets, like the lottery.

    I’ve played slots, which bore me so much I no longer do (except for free play if I can’t find a VP machine that will take it). And I’m so grateful for that. I’ve never tried Keno.

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  14. Gregory E. Nee says:

    Love was adored by conservatives up until the very moment she tied her boat to Mitt Romney and his family, a relative working in her campaign staff. Romney is anathema to conservatives, and anything he touches is defiled in their eyes. She would have been better liked had she embraced Hillary and her philosophy. But Mitt destroyed her credibility. When I saw one of her mailers many months before the election, with the Romney name on it, I knew she was done.

    She probably felt she had to do this, likely from a combination of state party affiliation, and religious affection. But their church itself fouled up terribly in backing Romney as well. Sure he has been elected senator, and probably will be re-elected in the future, but he will never be embraced nor given more than the minimum party power he would otherwise deserve, for the reason that he is seen as a man of low character, even a borderline socialist, two-faced and not worthy of trust.

    Were they instead to have supported a conservative, he could well have become one of the most influential members of the senate. But they chose to reinforce defeat. If their church is someday punished for this, it is because of this failure of judgment.

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  15. JohnMcC says:

    @Gregory E. Nee: Thank you for that information which I didn’t quite grasp as well as you’ve explained it. Put this in the file labeled ‘future destruction of the Republican party – background’.

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  16. DrDaveT says:

    @Gregory E. Nee:

    Romney is anathema to conservatives

    For information’s sake, which definition of ‘conservative’ are you using here? The Milton Friedman version? The Koch brothers version? The David Duke version? The Jerry Falwell version? The Rand Paul version? The Cliven Bundy version? The Jeff Foxworthy version? Something else?

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  17. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @James Pearce:

    It allows Republicans to ignore them completely –on advice!– and it allows Dems to soak up minority votes while doing very little for minority communities.

    I rest my case.

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  18. James Pearce says:

    @OzarkHillbilly:

    I rest my case.

    ?? What case is that?

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  19. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Kathy: Years ago, I remember an article where the author proposed that one was more likely to be struck by lightning through a closed window than to win the Powerball jackpot.

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  20. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    … [Romney] is seen as a man of low character…

    Once again proving that no one is wrong 100% of the time.

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  21. Kathy says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:

    Oh, the lottery is the worst possible bet commonly available. To be fair, the jackpot ought to be much, much higher than it is. the base jackpot, before any money accumulates from winless weeks. It’s pretty much a money-printing machine.

    BTW, I neglected to say in regular craps tables I also play the hard ways. That’s a bet that the dice will hit a double number (ie 4-4 or 3-3) before they hit seven. The odds suck, the edge is high. But I place a two-way bet. This means if I win, I take half the payoff, and the dealers take the other half. It’s a means to tip the dealers.

    One should always tip the dealer. I do it this way because they seem to prefer this to a straight tip. Besides, if it doesn’t hit, I still give the dealer a $5 chip at the end of the session and say “here’s for the bet that didn’t hit.” After that, they can’t do enough for me all through my stay. Also, I always bet a number I have on a pass or come bet, usually 6 or 8.

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  22. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Kathy: It’s always important to remember that when one is playing the lottery, one is actually paying a tax disguised as a gambling enterprise. There are many things about the lottery that actual casinos are not permitted to do because those things are unfair to people who are gambling. A few years ago, the Oregonian newspaper ran a series of articles that were showing that the State Gaming Commission had actually published a pamphlet that purported to “help” people play Video Poker when in fact the pamphlet was advising them to make plays that were guaranteed to lose. And that the machines had been rigged to pay out at an even lower rate than was advertised by the Gaming Commission.

    As the saying goes “lottery games are games of chance [no, actually there’s no chance involved for the players] and should be played for entertainment purposes only.

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