The June 2 Republican primary for Iowa’s 2nd Congressional District by all accounts is predicted to be a close one.
Although five candidates are on ballot, the primary has turned out to focus on a two-person race between political veterans Mariannette Miller-Meeks and Bobby Schilling. The other candidates are Tim Borchardt, Steven Everly and Ricky Lee Phillips.
The winner of the Republican primary will face Democratic challenger and former District 49 state Sen. Rita Hart in the Nov. 3 general election for the open seat being vacated by U.S. Rep. Dave Loebsack, D-Iowa City. Loebsack, first elected in 2006, has announced his retirement from Congress.
Southeast Iowa’s 2nd District includes Iowa City, Fairfield, Mount Pleasant, Washington and Davenport.
Schilling, a businessman who served in Congress representing Illinois’ 17th District from 2011 to 2013, lost his bid for a second term to U.S. Rep. Cheri Bustos, D-Moline, in the November 2012 general election. He challenged Bustos again in the November 2014 general election and lost by nearly 22,000 votes.
Schilling in 2017 moved to LeClaire, near the Mississippi River, and became a resident of Iowa, making him eligible to run for Congress in the 2nd District.
Miller-Meeks, an ophthalmologist and U.S. Army veteran who retired as a lieutenant colonel, is a state senator representing District 41.
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Schilling has earned endorsements from former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania and U.S. Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, while Miller-Meeks has been endorsed by Republican U.S. Sen. Joni Ernst of Iowa.
According to the Federal Election Commission, Miller-Meeks has raised five times the amount of donations compared with Schilling. The first quarter report ending March 31 shows Miller-Meeks with $516,320 in total donations and nearly $400,000 cash on hand. Schilling has raised $99,650 and has $55,000 cash on hand.
Schilling announced last Wednesday that he was recently diagnosed with cancer, saying he will return to the campaign trail after undergoing surgery.
“As my family and supporters know, I’m a fighter,” Schilling said in a statement. “I’ve been through many challenges in my life and to be frank, this will be my biggest challenge yet. But I know, with my wife, 10 children and 13 grandkids behind me, I will be able to overcome this setback. I couldn’t be more prepared.
“I want to assure the voters of the Iowa 2nd District: I’m not quitting. I am confident that we will beat this thing and be back at the campaign in very short order.”
His son, Terry Schilling, is acting as a surrogate to campaign for his father.