Mia Love pulled a major upset on Saturday, winning the Republican Party nomination in Utah’s 4th Congressional District, advancing to face U.S. Rep. Jim Matheson in November.
“Today we have an opportunity to do something very special. Today we can start breaking a pattern,” Love exhorted delegates before the final vote. “Today we can start bringing Jim Matheson home. Elect one nominee today, so we can take this fight to Jim Matheson tomorrow.”
Love won 70.4 percent of the vote from the delegates while former state lawmaker Carl Wimmer captured 29.6 percent.
Wimmer, a co-founder of the Patrick Henry Caucus focused on states rights, had campaigned for the office for more than a year, resigning his legislative seat to make his bid. He had broad legislative backing, the endorsement of Sen. Mike Lee, and the backing of legislators and Attorney General Mark Shurtleff.
But Love, the mayor of Saratoga Springs, had said coming into the convention that she was the front-runner.
With the endorsement of her competitors — former Rep. Stephen Sandstrom and attorney Jay Cobb — and the backing of Mitt Romney’s son, Josh Romney, she managed to muster the 60 percent threshold needed to avoid a primary.
If elected to Congress, Love, the daughter of Haitian immigrants, would be the only black Republican woman in Congress.
Shurtleff, endorsing Wimmer before the final round of voting, urged delegates to back a proven conservative.
“You have to please pick a person with a proven record who can beat Jim Matheson this fall. Not a novelty,” Shurtleff said.
The reference to Love as a “novelty” drew boos from many in the audience.
Love has already won support from Republican House leaders. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va.; House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif.; and Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan, the leading Republican budget hawk all gave money to Love early in her campaign.