A new round of TV ads have GOP Rep. Mia Love and Democratic Salt Lake County Ben McAdams bashing each other as not trustworthy.
“You just can’t trust Ben McAdams,” says a narrator in Love’s new ad. Meanwhile, McAdams’ commercial similarly shows an elderly couple saying, “You can’t trust Mia, with our benefits or the truth.”
McAdams spokeswoman Alyson Heyrend complains that Love’s new ad, which started airing Tuesday, “is not at all truthful” as it talks about McAdams' involvement with the once-proposed Olympia Hills development near Herriman — which he killed with a mayoral veto after County Council approval.
Olympia Hills was billed as similar to the popular Daybreak community in South Jordan, but with triple the density — 33,000 people on 938 acres in an unincorporated area.
Despite McAdams’ veto, Love’s new ad says that when he had a chance to do something about overcrowded schools and gridlocked roads, he instead “took thousands of dollars of campaign cash from big developers in a rush to approve their massive city-sized project.”
It adds, “He only backed down when residents found out” about the project.
Heyrend says that is far from the truth.
“At every step where he could make a decision about this project, the mayor did so in consultation with residents and local elected officials — and ultimately vetoed the project,” she said.
Heyrend added that after initial approval of zoning for the project by the Salt Lake County Council, McAdams heard concerns from mayors and residents in the southwest county. She said he asked the county’s municipal services district, which also oversees zoning in unincorporated areas, to pause further consideration.
Heyrend said McAdams met with mayors and residents, then chose to hold a town hall meeting about the project at a packed Herriman High School. After near-universal condemnation of the project there, McAdams vetoed it.
Dave Hansen, campaign manager for Love, still insists that McAdams vetoed the project only “after it was found out what he was doing, and after an uprising of the citizens.”
Heyrend said, “I think that because this race is so close and Congresswoman Love is under an ethical cloud about her trustworthiness, this is an attempt to distract voters from her own problems."
She said that includes the Federal Election Commission questioning whether Love raised more than $1 million illegally for a primary election that she never faced. Hansen said Love broke no campaign laws and that McAdams’ continued description of the contributions as illegal “is absolutely false.”
Meanwhile, McAdams’ new ad, which began airing over the weekend, features Don and Marilyn Remington, both 87, who say that Love stole their images for use in an earlier ad. The Love campaign used a brief image from an old McAdams mayoral campaign that showed the Remingtons boarding his “Ben Bus." The Love campaign said what it did broke no laws.
Marilyn Remington says in the new ad, “Mia Love stole our images to make an ad attacking Ben McAdams.” Don Remington says, “Now she wants to mess with our Social Security.”
The ad uses videos of Love to say she is trying to raise the age of retirement and voted to cut Social Security and Medicare benefits.
Sasha Clark, spokeswoman for Love, said, “The bills Ben cites in his ads aren’t even bills, they are resolutions that did not cut Social Security or Medicare at all. As an attorney, Ben should know better than to scare seniors by making blatantly false ads for political gain.”
Hansen noted that some big outside spending in the race may soon be coming. He said his campaign saw in notices that the Congressional Leadership Fund — a group that supports GOP campaigns — has purchased $1 million worth of ads for the 4th Congressional District before the Nov. 6 election.
The Love-McAdams contest is the closest major race in Utah, and one of the most competitive congressional races in the nation — and is seen as a key race for either party to win control of the House.
Last week, the Cook Political Report — one of the nation’s top-regarded handicappers of political races — changed its description of the race from “lean Republican” to “toss-up.”
The new ad war comes as Love and McAdams are scheduled to face each other in their only debate next Monday, scheduled for 6 p.m. — and it will be aired by major local television stations.