This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2016, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Georgia Democratic Rep. David Scott ventured into enemy territory — the Capitol Hill Club, used by Republicans to raise money and strategize for the election — in search of Rep. Mia Love, R-Utah.

When Scott found her in May, he handed over a $1,000 check from his campaign and said he wanted her to win in November.

Love looked at the check, then looked around to see if this was a joke, and finally she asked her Democratic colleague why he would donate to her campaign when it would likely get him in trouble with his party.

"First, I think it is important for us to have people of color on both sides of the aisle and, second, I want Utah to know I'm proud of what they have done."

Love told this story during her visit with The Salt Lake Tribune's editorial board this week, using it as an example of how her historic status as the first black Republican woman in the U.S. House has given her a unique opportunity to make friends with Democrats.

Reached by phone, Scott, a seven-term congressman who represents part of Atlanta and its suburbs, said Love's retelling was "very accurate."

"Mia has proven herself. She is very smart, very talented," he said. "It is very important for us as African-Americans to look at the big picture and realize that we are in a big game here and we have to have alliances."

In today's partisan environment it is rare for a member of one party to praise a colleague from another, and it is practically unheard of for a member to endorse a candidate from the other party.

"I am the only candidate out of 435 members that has been endorsed and supported by someone from the other side of the aisle," Love said. "That tells you something."

Kyle Kondik, from the University of Viginia Center for Politics, said it is uncommon, though he noted Scott also endorsed Georgia Republican Sen. Johnny Isakson, an old friend, earlier in August.

"Lawmakers are partisans, or at least most of them are, and you don't get ahead in your own party by backing members of the other party," Kondik said.

As a first-term congresswoman and the daughter of Haitian immigrants, Love joined the Congressional Black Caucus, serving as its only Republican member. She has also mentioned her historic status in fundraising mailers, but she comments on her race infrequently in interviews and speeches.

But asked about her accomplishments by The Tribune, Love brought up Scott's endorsement, adding, "There are a lot of people who have a lot of ideas about what this state represents, and I hope that I'm changing those ideas for the better. We don't care about the way someone looks or their gender. We just want someone who is going to go in and do the job."

Love is a member of the House Financial Services Committee, and she has focused her effort on investigating the Dodd-Frank reforms passed as a reaction to the Wall Street collapse of 2007 and on policy surrounding industrial-loan companies.

It's through her committee work that she's developed a relationship with Scott, a moderate Democrat, who has broken ranks with his party on some banking and national security issues. He championed a bill that passed Congress, which rolled back a rule created by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to fight racism in the auto-loan industry. Scott argued the bureau's data were faulty because its employees guessed the race of customers based on their last name.

Love also brought Missouri Democratic Rep. Emanuel Cleaver, another black lawmaker she has befriended, to Utah for a visit in June.

She touted her close relationship with House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., her congressional mentor, who meets with her quarterly. Love argues that Doug Owens, her Democratic challenger, won't be able to match her influence in Washington.

Owens, who lost to Love by about 5 percentage points in 2014, is running against her again, and his campaign has largely tried to paint her as a rigid partisan more interested in building her national celebrity than representing Utah. Unlike his first campaign, Owens has received the backing of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and contributions from a group of sitting Democratic lawmakers.

Asked for a reaction to Scott's cross-party endorsement, Owens' campaign spokesman Taylor Morgan would only say: "Who?"

Twitter: @mattcanham

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