Government

Mariannette Miller-Meeks wins Republican primary, to face Rita Hart in 2nd House District

The winner of Iowa's Republican Party primary race for the state's 2nd Congressional District will face Democrat Rita Ha
The winner of Iowa’s Republican Party primary race for the state’s 2nd Congressional District will face Democrat Rita Hart for a chance to take the seat long held by outgoing U.S. Rep. Dave Loebsack. (File/The Gazette)
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Mariannette Miller-Meeks of Ottumwa won Tuesday’s primary election to become the Republican nominee for Iowa’s 2nd Congressional District.

With 19 of the district’s 24 counties reporting, Miller-Meeks had 48 percent of the vote to her nearest oppeonnt, Bobby Schilling of LeClaire, at 37 percent.

She will face Democrat Rita Hart in the Nov. 3 general election for the seat left open by the retirement of longtime Democratic Rep. Dave Loebsack of Iowa City.

ELECTION RESULTS: See primary results from other county and state races

Miller-Meeks, an ophthalmologist and state senator, is an Army veteran and former director of the Iowa Department of Public Health.

Scott County is the largest of the 24 counties that make up the 2nd Congressional District, followed by Johnson County, where Miller-Meeks won 57 percent of the vote to 28 percent for Schilling.

“We have a campaign that’s focused on issues,” Miller-Meeks said Tuesday night. “As we navigate through this pandemic, we want to make sure people get the help they need, and we start to reopen our economy. We also hope and pray for peace among people and a resolution from the conflict we now see in Iowa and across our country. We know racism is not tolerable.”

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The other candidates in the Republican primary were Steven Everly, Tim Borchardt and Ricky Lee Phillips, with all three earned about 3 percent of the ballots cast in Scott County.

Schilling, 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 2012. He challenged — and lost — to Bustos again in the 2014 general election.

Schilling moved to LeClaire in 2017.

“We knew going in it was going to be tough. We knew it was going to be a tough race,” Schilling said Tuesday night. “Being recently diagnosed with cancer, some people would have dropped out, but I’m not a quitter. I stuck to the guns and kept moving, but we fell short.

“In this campaign, we pushed our opponent to embrace a more pro-life position on several things that (Miller-Meeks) said she would support. To me, that’s a win,” Schilling said.

Miller-Meeks outraised Schilling in campaign donations by nearly $500,000.

Schilling said he would throw his support behind Miller-Meeks going into the November general election.

Hart, formerly a state senator for the 49th District, was uncontested in the Democratic primary.

“We’re facing some of the most challenging times our country has ever experienced,” Hart said in a statement after the polls closed. “I am heartbroken the way hatred, racism, and violence are tearing our country apart.

“As a lifelong Iowan, farmer and teacher, I have seen the challenges that our communities are facing. Now more than ever, we need leadership that brings people together.

“Whether it is health care, economic development, justice, public safety or education, I will always work to put Iowans ahead of politics and provide real solutions to our toughest problems.”

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