116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
By Sarah Watson - Quad City Times
Oct. 16, 2022 6:00 am, Updated: Oct. 17, 2022 8:43 am
With a backdrop of spotless cars that spanned the decades of the 20th century in Dahl Ford's Old Car Home in Davenport, Mariannette Miller-Meeks told dozens of Republicans she'd work to bring down rising prices and be a check on the Biden administration if reelected to Congress.
It was June, seven months after she announced her intention to seek re-election, and the average price of gasoline that day was $4.62 a gallon — nearing Iowa's peak before falling under $4 in late summer.
"It (the cars) hearkens back to a day when America was an innovator, was great, was a world power and there was so much hope in our country," Miller-Meeks said at her June campaign event, which was headlined by potential 2024 presidential contender Nikki Haley. "And as I reflect on the things that we see today in our nation, there seems to be a lot of hopelessness."
Miller-Meeks puts the blame squarely on the Biden administration for rising inflation, and the veteran who served 24 years in the Army, including as a nurse and doctor and retiring as a lieutenant colonel, often has criticized the president for the U.S. handling of the withdrawal from Afghanistan.
She joined all Republican House members in voting against the $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief bill, called the American Rescue Plan Act, describing it as "wasteful spending," and voted against the $1 trillion infrastructure bill, citing concerns that it was tied to a larger Democrat-backed social spending bill. The bill funnel dollars to repair bridges, locks and dams and other infrastructure including in her southeast Iowa district.
"At the federal level, we need to monitor what we're doing and spending, not increase taxes, and allow more energy development," Miller-Meeks said in a recent interview.
She supports a ramp-up of domestic oil and gas production through more land permits and leases and encourages more biofuel production as ways to address oil and gas prices.
Her opponent, Democrat Christina Bohannan, has contended Miller-Meeks hasn't done enough to combat price increases, pointing to her votes against Democrats' Inflation Reduction Act, which would allow Medicare to negotiate prescription drug prices. Some economists predict it will have only a negligible impact on inflation.
Miller-Meeks first came to Iowa for a residency in ophthalmology in 1988, and joined a private practice in Ottumwa. She ran for the 2nd Congressional District three times unsuccessfully, was director of the state department of public health from late 2010 to early 2014 and served one term as a state senator.
Miller-Meeks is seeking re-election in a newly drawn 1st Congressional District. She currently represents Iowa's 2nd District in southeast Iowa. The new district covers 20 counties in Southeast Iowa: Cedar, Clinton, Des Moines, Henry, Iowa, Jackson, Jasper, Jefferson, Johnson, Jones, Keokuk, Lee, Louisa, Mahaska, Marion, Muscatine, Scott, Van Buren, Warren and Washington.
She won her seat in 2020, beating Democrat Rita Hart by six votes after a recount — the narrowest margin of victory in a U.S. House election since 1984.
Miller-Meeks previously was the Republican nominee for the office three times — in 2008, 2012 and 2014. She lost each election to then-incumbent representative Dave Loebsack, a Democrat.
She now faces an election challenge from Bohannan, a University of Iowa law professor, former environmental engineer and state representative. Bohannan won election to the statehouse in 2020, unseating 20-year Iowa City representative Vicki Lensing in the Democratic primary for the Iowa City seat.
Political forecasters have rated the race as competitive, and each candidate has attracted support from their national party. Most recently, one forecaster — the Cook Political Report — tightened its forecast of the race, changing its rating from "likely Republican" to "leans Republican."
The new district drew Miller-Meeks' home county, Wapello, into the 3rd Congressional District instead. She said she and her husband, Curt, kept their home in Ottumwa and she now has a second residence in LeClaire in Scott County. The new district includes 16 of the 24 counties Miller-Meeks currently represents.
The election is Nov. 8 and early voting begins Wednesday.
City of residence: Primary residence in Ottumwa and a second residence in LeClaire
Occupation: U.S. House, ophthalmologist.
Political experience: Miller-Meeks is serving her first term in Congress representing what is currently the 2nd District. Miller-Meeks beat Democrat Rita Hart by six votes in 2020 after unsuccessfully running for the seat three times against former U.S. Rep. Dave Loebsack. She served as a state senator from 2019-2021, and was appointed director of the Iowa Department of Public Health in December 2010 under by then-governor Terry Branstad until she resigned in January 2014.
Campaign website: drmillermeeks.com
One of the major issues in this year’s midterm elections is abortion, after the U.S. Supreme Court this summer overturned Roe v. Wade.
Mariannette Miller-Meeks has said she supports a federal ban on the procedure after 15 weeks of pregnancy with exceptions for rape, incest and life of the mother.
A recent campaign ad from Bohannan, however, asserts that Miller-Meeks “wants to outlaw all abortions nationwide. No exceptions for rape, incest, or to save a woman’s life.”
Miller-Meeks co-sponsored the Life at Conception Act, a House proposal with 163 Republican co-sponsors that would guarantee a constitutional “right to life of each born and pre-born human person” from the moment of fertilization, without explicit exceptions.
In an interview with the Quad-City Times, Miller-Meeks said when asked about the act: “I think that you can recognize medically that life begins at conception, and still have exceptions. … So, again, my long-held position in multiple public interviews has been I'm pro-life with exceptions for life of the mother, rape and incest.”
Miller-Meeks called Operation Warp Speed, which cut red tape to speed up a COVID-19 vaccine, "a real shining moment for the United States."
She said, however, the nation had "lessons to learn" from the pandemic, including amassing more sources of personal-protective equipment; more effective communications from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention about pandemic risks; and acknowledging concerns that some state leaders prolonged lockdowns of schools and businesses longer than necessary.
The breakdown of voter registration in Iowa's newly drawn 1st Congressional District as of October, according to the Iowa Secretary of State:
Democratic active voters: 161,018
Republican active voters: 158,501
No-party active voters: 150,570
Other active voters: 3,612
Democratic inactive voters: 31,886
Republican inactive voters: 19,936
No-party inactive voters: 51,573
Other inactive voters: 1,354