Republican State Sen. Mariannette Miller-Meeks launches her fourth bid for Congress, but avoids using the word ‘Republican’

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Sen. Marrianette Miller-Meeks, official Iowa Senate photo.

State Sen. Mariannette Miller-Meeks announced on Tuesday that she is running for the U.S. House of Representatives in Iowa’s 2nd Congressional District. The Ottumwa ophthalmologist becomes the second Republican in the race for the seat currently held by Rep. Dave Loebsack, who announced his retirement in April.

This is Miller-Meeks’ fourth run for Congress. She was Loebsack’s Republican opponent in 2008, 2010 and 2014, losing all three times.

In 2018 she ran for the Iowa State Senate in the 41st District instead and won.

Miller-Meeks stressed her personal story, rather than specific policy proposals in a campaign video she released on Tuesday.

“No one in my family had gone to college, much less medical school,” Miller-Meeks said in the video.

Miller-Meeks recounts how her parents discouraged her dream of becoming a doctor, which led to her leaving home at the age of 16 and enrolling in community college. She became a nurse and then attended medical school. Miller-Meeks also served in the U.S. Army for 24 years, and she retired as a lieutenant colonel in the Army Reserves.

Gov. Terry Branstad appointed Miller-Meeks as director of Iowa Department of Public Health in 2011. She resigned in January 2014, telling reporters that she wanted to explore other options.

In the Iowa Senate, Miller-Meeks has been a reliable supporter of the Republican leadership and its legislative agenda. The 2nd Congressional Distrrict—which covers 24 counties, including Johnson and Scott—has the most liberal electorate of Iowa’s four Congressional Districts. Miller-Meeks is harshly critical of liberals in her campaign video.

“Liberal Democrats have given up on you and your dreams. Because they believe that Washington D.C. is the only place where problems can be solved,” Miller-Meeks says, as images of Nancy Pelosi and other Democratic members of Congress fill the screen. “But I will fight for common sense solutions to accessible, affordable health care that give you choice; for skills training and apprenticeship programs that will prepare our workforce for the 21st century; a growing economy increases take-home pay; and a government that is accountable and can be trusted.”

Miller-Meeks doesn’t explain any of her plans to achieve those goals in the video or on her campaign website. Interestingly, Miller-Meeks doesn’t mention President Trump either. Or any other Republican elected official. In fact, Miller-Meeks never uses the word “Republican” in her video and on her campaign site she only identifies herself as a “conservative,” never mentioning her party affiliation.

The state senator will face Bobby Schilling in the Republican primary. Schilling, a former one-term Illinois congressman, moved to Iowa in 2017, claiming that Illinois had become too hostile to business for him to continue living in his home state.

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Two Democrats, Rita Hart and Newman Abuissa, are also running for the open seat in the 2nd Congressional District.

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