- Associated Press - Tuesday, July 21, 2015

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) - Salt Lake City Democrat Doug Owens announced Monday he will try to unseat Utah Congresswoman Mia Love next year in what will likely be a closely-watched rematch for the state’s 4th Congressional District.

Though he lost last year’s race when Love became the first black Republican woman elected to Congress, Owens nevertheless made a strong showing, taking 47 percent of the vote to Love’s 50 percent.

Owens, a Democrat, said Monday he expects to win this time by casting himself as someone who won’t just follow a party agenda.

“I just think it’s critical that we’ve got to have somebody to put Utah first, the hardworking families here that need a representative in Washington, rather than have somebody that’s just going to go for a party line,” he said. Owens said he has started fundraising.

Love campaign manager Dave Hansen said the race will be different next year with Love as a sitting congresswoman. Campaign finance reports released last week show she collected $515,000 in campaign checks over the past three months, outraising her Utah colleagues in the House of Representatives.

“We feel confident and comfortable where she is. At the same time, we’re not going to take the race for granted,” Hansen said.

Owens is an attorney and the son of a former Utah congressman, but was a political newcomer himself when he ran against Love, the former mayor of Saratoga Springs, after incumbent Democrat Jim Matheson decided not to run.

Political scientists said Owens made headway by staking himself out as a moderate and painting Love as an extreme candidate even though she vastly outraised and outspent him throughout the race in the Republican-leaning district.

Utah’s 4th District covers a string of Salt Lake City suburbs stretching south along the Wasatch Front to Sanpete County. When it was held by Matheson before Love’s victory, the district was the only national office that Democrats had been able to capture in the heavily Republican state.

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