This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2016, and information in the article may be outdated.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.
Two fundraising emails sent by Rep. Mia Love's campaign on Tuesday and written with a dramatic flair claim that Doug Owens endorsed Hillary Clinton for president.
He has not.
Nor is he close to doing so.
In fact, Owens wants nothing at all to do with the Democratic presidential primary.
The dust-up over the inaccurate emails is just another sign that the presidential fight will loom large over every other race, including Utah's fiercely contested 4th Congressional District. And in this unusual year, when Clinton remains unpopular in Utah and Republicans have to wrestle with Donald Trump's rise, the eventual nominees may become a problem for both House candidates.
Love, a House freshman who lives in Saratoga Springs, voted for Texas Sen. Ted Cruz in Utah's GOP caucuses last week. Before that, she had supported Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, who dropped out of the race after losing his home state. But asked if she'd back Trump if he were the nominee, Love told a Salt Lake Tribune reporter: "I'm not going to answer that question."
Similarly, Owens has not only stayed out of Clinton's race with Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders he hasn't gone near it. He didn't cast a ballot in Utah's Democratic caucuses in which Sanders claimed 77 percent of the vote. And he won't commit to voting for the eventual Democratic nominee.
"He's not a party guy and is focused on his race, not national politics," said Taylor Morgan, Owens' campaign strategist. "It's also very early in a very unique year."
Morgan said his boss is focused on the 4th District only, harkening back to the strategy Rep. Jim Matheson, D-Utah, relied on during his seven terms in the House, including staying away from the Democratic National Convention. Owens, a lawyer and the son of late Rep. Wayne Owens, ran against Love in 2014, after Matheson retired, and lost by 5 percentage points.
Owens' campaign has repeatedly said Love is a political celebrity who is distracted by national politics.
In the first email, sent early Tuesday, Love's campaign wrote of its need for "emergency contributions" at the end of the fundraising quarter, which is Thursday, and used the subject line "falling behind." It painted Hillary Clinton as a villain and referred to Owens but didn't mention his name.
"My opponent made it official by endorsing Hillary's campaign and hitching his wagon to the Clinton Political Machine juggernaut. He thinks that by adding his name to Clinton, he can easily coast to victory in November."
The email also says that D.C. Democrats "plan to replace my vote for common sense conservative reform with a Hillary 'yes-man.' "
That email was signed by Love.
When contacted by The Tribune, Dave Hansen, Love's campaign strategist, said the campaign's email consultant made a simple mistake and that it wasn't an intentional act to tie Owens to the Clinton campaign.
"It was just an error on our part that they sent it out that way," he said.
He promised to send a correction, which he did in a second email under his name that didn't exactly correct the mistake.
With the subject line "more liberal than Hillary?" the email says: "Friend minutes after Mia sent the email below, Doug Owens tried to deny supporting Hillary Clinton. He must know that Hillary's politics are not in line with what's best for Utah and the American people."
It goes on to suggest that Owens may be supporting Sanders.
"We need a leader who will not make backroom deals to win elections and will not support the liberal or even socialist policies of Hillary or Bernie," Hansen wrote.
Morgan argues that these misstatements are part of a pattern in which the first-term congresswoman refuses to accept responsibility for a mistake.
"When Mia Love was caught using taxpayer money for flights to social events, she blamed staff," he said, referring to a miniscandal involving her attendance at the White House Correspondents' Dinner. "If this was a mistake, it's important to ask how often Mia Love's vendor is allowed to send emails in her name, with her signature, without her approval?"