SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — In her bid to become the first black Republican woman elected to Congress, Mia Love is the party's emblem of diversity this campaign year. She's reluctant to embrace the role, saying she doesn't let race or gender define her politics.
The 36-year-old mayor of Saratoga Springs, Utah, points to her policy stances as the reason for her success.
"I was elected mayor not because of my race or gender, not because I wear high heels, but because of the policies I put in place," Love said in a recent interview.
Polling shows Love with a slight lead over Democratic Rep. Jim Matheson, a six-term incumbent. The race is still too close to call.
In a party that has struggled for decades to attract black voters, the daughter of Haitian immigrants included subtle nods to civil rights leaders Martin Luther King Jr. and Rosa Parks in her speech to the Republican National Convention in August.
"Our story has been told for over 200 years with small steps and giant leaps," she told the applauding delegates. "From a woman on a bus to a man with a dream, from the bravery of the greatest generation to the innovators and entrepreneurs of today, this is our story."
Love has made much of her family story, a hallmark of her stump speeches: Her parents legally immigrated to Brooklyn, N.Y., in the early 1970s, she says, with just $10 in their pockets. She says her father — who has toiled as a painter, janitor and school bus driver — taught her never to ask for a handout. Her parents became naturalized U.S. citizens in 1984.
A married mother of three, a Mormon and a tea party favorite, Love is the only woman among 11 black Republican House candidates in the Nov. 6 election. She and Vernon Parker, who is running in Arizona, are seen as the most likely winners among nine black GOP challengers.
Republicans, like Love herself, have focused more on her conservative values and agenda than her race.
"We need a party that is diverse based on our issues and not based on simply trying to find greater variety in the complexion," said Rep. Tim Scott of South Carolina, one of the two black Republicans now in the House.
While Love doesn't emphasize her race and gender, they are powerful factors in her bid to become a Republican member of Congress. Scott and Allen West of Florida were elected in 2010 as the first black Republicans in Congress since former Rep. J.C. Watts of Oklahoma left in 2003.
Black Republicans long have been scarce in Congress. Of 26 black Republican House members since 1870, the vast majority served during the post-Civil War Reconstruction days. Scott and West, both tea party favorites, were swept into office as part of the GOP wave in 2010. West faces a tough re-election fight.
Love is getting support in her bid to focus on policies.
It would be a disservice to Love for Republicans to tout her candidacy in racial terms, said Artur Davis, a black former Democratic congressman from Alabama who switched parties and also addressed the GOP convention.
"As a congresswoman, she would have so much more to offer: successful former mayor, the product of a successful immigration story and a thoughtful, dynamic conservative," Davis said.
Amid the nation's shifting demographics, the GOP has focused more on reaching out to Hispanics than black voters, who have supported President Barack Obama in overwhelming numbers.
To enter the history books, Love must topple Matheson, the son of a popular former governor, in a state where more than nine in 10 people are white. For a decade, a series of white Republican men have been unable to knock off Matheson, a fiscally conservative "Blue Dog" Democrat who has beaten far more recognizable names in Utah politics.
Since the convention, Republican House Speaker John Boehner, Arizona Sen. John McCain and former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice have helped Love raise money. Mitt Romney's son, Josh, is her campaign chairman.
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This Week’s Celebrity Instagrams (10/15-10/21)
31 photos Launch gallery
1. Just a NY girl with BIG dreams....
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2. HAPPY CHILDREN=QUALITY PARENTING. We don't always see eye to eye on everything and that's normal. We're human beings. But we come together and do it right for what's important, the kids. We are not enemies, we are parents. And we are parents 1st. S/O to @monyettashaw for making Mason's bday memorable. S/O to @itscrystalsmith at home taking care of our other lil' Prince. ❤️❤️❤️ THIS IS WHAT CO-PARENTING LOOKS LIKE. #Blessed #Happy #AboveTheDrama #BiggerThanUs
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3. So happy to finally be able to share with you all that I’m the new Global Brand Ambassador for @Revlon! Follow my day on RevlonSnaps. Yay! Choose Love, Everybody! #RevlonXCiara #chooselove #ad
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4. Glam on point!!!@makeupbymotoko & @shaylinjoneshair #easybreezy @lifetimetv #beachesmovie #january2017 😘
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5. ✨True love ✨📸: @jessiemarrerophotography
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7. Today was not easy..but by the grace of God we all got through it. Words cannot express our gratitude for all of your Prayers, Positive thoughts and Support for us throughout the years. Tommy will be missed but most certainly never forgotten...And PLEASE don't ask "Where's Martin?.." he was there too...just not in this picture. Lol! God bless you all.. #LoveConquersAll #MartinShow
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9. West coast get ready for #RockyHorror. I will be live tweeting again. #letsdothetimewarpagain
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10. #THEKEYS pre order yours now ... Available everywhere #NOV22 #WeTheBest 🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑
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11. We about to ROCK at #KCABlackBall!! All for our life-changing effort to end 🌎 AIDS.
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12. Today's #SNAPJACK is brought to you by @yazzthegreatest 😂😂😂💋💋💋
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13. Damn girl you kinda old to be headed to the Go Go. You coming in at the age they leaving. LMAO
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14. Daddy daycare B-Boxin with @acewellstucker @shopraisingace
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15. #FBF Naviyd & URV "LIL MONSTERS"
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16. HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ONE OF THE BIGGEST LEGENDS IN OUR HIPHOP HISTORY! @snoopdogg CONTINUED BLESSING AND LOVE FAMILY!!!!! REAL OG!
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17. Thank you for a beautiful night VSU! Let's do it again! #HOMECOMING
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18. Had a great time this morning with my familia Erica, Griff & Truth!!
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19. Check out my interview on @essence facebook live. #inmyownwords #nycpromo #day2
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20. #She💋 #tbt #TheCoveAtTheAtlantis #DawgPawsAndAll
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21. Bae #retailtherapy
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22. Why me and @coryhardrict got the same pose... and notee... new mouth #naked
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23. When my husband is my personal 'hype-man'! it kills me every time! 💜😂 #WHATNOW #lostfiles📷
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24. Diggy Simmons
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25. Hand full of @jacquieaiche 💙💎💍 @esnail_la 💅🏾
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26. SuperSoulers! You can watch my interview with Carl Lentz live from my Facebook page, tomorrow at 11a ET| 8a PT. #SuperSoulSunday
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27. 💋 .. When the friendship is easy like Sunday morning. ☀️
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28. Sunday mornings are the best........... hugs and cuddles with my angel
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29. #huggar16 #hellohuggars
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30. My gym is everywhere!.. #RnBMoney #TheGeneral 📸: @twelvepastseven
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31. Nothing I would rather be doing... Rocko setting up our movie, Romelō working on a puzzle & Laiyah singing and sharing all she's learning at school... I'm so grateful for the joy they've brought into my life ... Praying for peace , joy & love in the home of EVERY family ♥️ #HeadScarfPJSunday LOL 😂
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