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Love tops Owens in Utah's 4th Congressional District

SALT LAKE CITY — Republican Rep. Mia Love survived a rematch with Democratic challenger Doug Owens, winning by a larger margin Tuesday than she did two years ago.

Love beat Owens 53 percent to 43 percent, with vote tallies from Salt Lake County not coming until late Tuesday night and early Wednesday morning.

"I have never been more proud of this state and the United States of America than I am today," Love told friends, family and supporters just after 1 a.m. Wednesday.

Love said she is more excited about fellow Republican Donald Trump winning the presidency than she though she would be.

"Well, I think it's better than the alternative, I'll tell you," she said.

Now that Republicans have control of the House, Senate and White House, she said, she's looking forward to getting things done.

Love refused to endorse or vote for Trump and eventually called for him to withdraw. She told the Deseret News that she wrote in Trump's running mate, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, for president.

"I feel like there's still a win there. I felt like it was important for me to keep the promises I made to my district, and now that we have Donald Trump as the president, I am excited to work with him and work with all of Congress to make sure we get things done," Love said.

Owens waited until early Wednesday to concede the election.

"It’s been a long, hard-fought campaign, and I could not have reached so many voters without unending support, generosity and hard work throughout this race," he said in a statement congratulating Love. "While we didn’t end up with the result we had fought so hard for, we built a movement of committed volunteers, donors and supporters that we can be very proud of."

Owens said although he lost, Democrats must remain engaged in politics or risk losing our voice. "Now more than ever, we must continue to fight for Utah’s future," he said.

Some national nonpartisan groups rated the Love-Owens race a toss-up earlier this year. But what had been seen as one of the state's hottest contests was largely overshadowed by the presidential election.

The first black Republican woman in Congress and considered a rising star by the GOP, Love said it has been important for her "to study and show up and do my job" because there are some who are watching to see if she fails.

Love said the most important work she does as a congresswoman is at home, helping Utahns living in a district made up of parts of Salt Lake, Utah, Juab and Sanpete counties with issues involving the federal government, such as seeking citizenship.

Love also is a member of the House Financial Services Committee, which oversees a complex industry that includes Utah's state-chartered industrial banks.

Owens, a lawyer and son of late Utah Congressman Wayne Owens, hit Love hard on the $300,000 in taxpayer-funded mailers she sent to constituents. He called it a horrible waste of money.

Love said Owens was dishonest in how he described the mailings sent from her congressional office, calling them a way for a new member of Congress to reach out to constituents and noting she has saved taxpayers money in staffing costs.

Despite losing by just five points two years ago, Owens worked to build name recognition since the last election. Then, he said, a quarter of the electorate didn't even know who he was.

Owens got an earlier start this time around, raising more money and also receiving help from the national party organizing his campaign's field operation. He started airing TV commercials in late August.

While both campaigns have aired negative TV ads, Owens' criticism of Love over the mailers dominated their only debate.