The Republican Party had hoped to elect its first black woman to Congress last November, but 768 votes meant seven-term Rep. Jim Matheson, D-Utah, was headed back to Washington. Now, a rematch is on in Utah's 4th Congressional District.
"When you are down, you get back up," Mia Love, who served two terms as the Mayor of Saratoga Springs, Utah, told U.S. News. Love's campaign is retooled, rebooted and ready for another round in what is already being described as one of the hottest races of the 2014 midterm election. Money is pouring in from out of state and if the last election is any indication, the price of admission is going to be steep.
In 2012, Love and Matheson each spent more than $2 million in a race for a spot in the House of Representatives.
This time, Love isn't taking any chances.
"The second time around we have a stronger campaign," Love says. "During the last race, I was fairly unknown. I was the mayor of a city and really successful in doing what I said I would do, but during that time, our city was just getting on that map."
In 2012, Love blasted from relative obscurity to the Republican National Committee stage.
Walking out on stage to Queen's "We Will Rock You" anthem at the August 2012 Republican convention , Love became a symbol for the GOP. She carried a compelling personal story as the child of Haitian immigrants and had experience working with Democrats within her city's government.
Now she's taken her nationwide name recognition and paired it with political savvy, hiring GOP guru and former Utah Republican Party Chairman Dave Hansen to lead her campaign. Hansen won attention in Utah in 2012 after helping Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, hold on to his Senate seat.
"We don't have to start from behind anymore, we have the strategies we need to win," Love says.
But Matheson's not afraid of a challenge. The congressman has been in the GOP's crosshairs for awhile now, facing off in some of the toughest midterm elections for nearly a decade.
"This is a rematch and I am the winner. I wouldn't discount the fact that we have already had a race, and I won," Matheson says.
Matheson's campaign argues they have the edge in a midterm election. Matheson says the National Republican Congressional Committee would have had a better shot in 2012 when Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney was atop the ticket.
Romney brought droves of conservative Mormon voters to the polls and helped get record turnout in Utah. Also in 2012, Matheson, a cowboy-boot wearing congressman, had major ground to make up and gladhanding to do. He was running in a redrawn district where he says 75 percent of the voters were just getting to know him.
In the 113th Congress, those new voters back home have seen a centrist at work.
Matheson proudly touts his reputation as the Democratic member most likely to stray from the party line. He's voted against raising the debt ceiling and is conservative on social issues like marriage, which he believes should be between a man and a woman. According to a National Journal analysis, in the first three months of the 113th Congress, Matheson voted against the Democrats 42 percent of the time.
At the start of the 113th Congress, when Democrats were voting for Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., to be the speaker of the House, Matheson voted for Rep. John Dingell, D-Mich.
"I am the least partisan person in Congress," Matheson says.
His reputation has forced Love, who was once hailed as a tea party darling, to move beyond that label ahead of the 2014 cycle.
After the 16-day federal government shutdown, Love distanced herself from Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, who had led that fight. Since the government shutdown, Lee has seen sinking poll numbers in Utah.
While she attended a rally for Lee in November, Love later said she disagreed with the tactics he had employed.
"Shutting down the government did not stop Obamacare," Love told the Deseret News.