David Pautsch of Davenport announced this week he will challenge Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks for the Republican nomination in Iowa’s 1st Congressional District, which covers much of southeast Iowa, including the Iowa City area.
Pautsch considers Miller-Meeks to be too liberal, and told the Quad City Times the two-term incumbent is “too often out of step with the principles of her fellow Republicans and with biblical morality.”
The 69-year-old Pautsch is the owner of the L.W. Ramsey Advertising Agency, but is best known as the host of the annual Quad Cities Prayer Breakfast. The prayer breakfast is a project of Thy Kingdom Come Ministries, which Pautsch founded in 1988. The annual event started in 1995, and in recent years has featured some speakers who are widely admired in far-right political circles.
In 2021, MyPillow CEO and pro-Trump conspiracy theorist Mike Lindell was the prayer breakfast’s keynote speaker. That year’s event was themed around the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.
“Mike is here to talk about the triumph of love over hate,” Pautsch said before the event. “Hate is why 9/11 happened. And Mike knows a lot about love, about what faith and love can do in your life.”
This year, the keynote was delivered by Kari Lake, an Iowa-born conspiracy theorist who attributes her political career, and her TV news career before that, to divine inspiration. Lake, currently a candidate for the U.S. Senate in Arizona, still claims that Donald Trump won the 2020 presidential election and she won the election for governor of Arizona that year. Neither claim is true, or even remotely plausible, of course.
When he introduced Lake at the breakfast, Pautsch said her appearance was not about politics, “but it is about good government.”
“’Cause you can’t have good government without God. It’s impossible,” he continued. “It’s not about the separation of church or state [sic]. We want the state out of religion. That’s the intent of that. But we can’t have God out of the state. You can’t run, you can’t govern anything, you can’t even — a beehive is better managed under God than the way we’ve been doing it for the last some time.”
Pautsch is a veteran. He “graduated from the Armed Forces School of Music in 1973 and was a tuba player in the Continental Army Band in Ft. Monroe, Virginia,” according to his resume, the Times noted.
The candidate does not appear to have a campaign site yet, but did create a Facebook page for his campaign on Wednesday.
Paustch is the first person to announce a primary challenge to Miller-Meeks for the 2024 Republican nomination. In 2020, Miller-Meeks, who was making her fourth run for Congress, faced four opponents in the Republican primary. She won with 48 percent of the vote, before going on to win the general election by just six votes. In January 2022, Bettendorf businessman Kyle Kuehl launched a challenge to Miller-Meeks, but dropped out of the Republican race three months later.
Kuehl withdrew from the race shortly before the State Objection Board held a hearing on irregularities in the signatures on the nominating petition he filed to qualify as a candidate. Miller-Meeks faced no other Republican challengers that year.
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Like Pautsch, Kuehl presented himself as a more conservative alternative to Miller-Meeks.
Pautsch told the Times the main reason he is running for Congress is to “restore a sense of trust in God.”
“He’s real,” Pautsch added.