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Government

Miller-Meeks exploring bid for Iowa 2nd District seat in 2020

Dave Loebsack and Mariannette Miller-Meeks.
Dave Loebsack and Mariannette Miller-Meeks.

State Sen. Mariannette Miller-Meeks has confirmed she’s considering a run for the Iowa 2nd District U.S. House seat in 2020.

It will be an open-seat race because Democratic Rep. Dave Loebsack of Iowa City is not seeking re-election.

Miller-Meeks’ name has been mentioned as a possible candidate since Loebsack announced his retirement. In a letter to the Republican Party of Iowa, Miller-Meeks resigned from the State Central Committee to avoid any conflict of interest while exploring a congressional run.

If Miller-Meeks enters the race, it would set up a primary with Bobby Schilling, a former U.S. House member from Illinois. He now lives in Le Claire and operates pizza restaurants.

Miller-Meeks, who unsuccessfully challenged Loebsack three times, recently completed her first session of a four-year term in the Iowa Senate.

“My service in the Senate has made me acutely aware of the value someone with health care experience could have in the legislative process,” Miller-Meeks, an ophthalmologist, said in her resignation letter. “As I have continued meeting with people across Iowa’s 2nd District, I have been encouraged to run again ... to bring that knowledge to Washington.”

Miller-Meeks, who lives in Ottumwa, has worked in private practice, was on the faculty at University of Iowa and now is employed by Great River Health System in Burlington.

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In June, Miller-Meeks, who at one time was director of the Iowa Department of Public Health, was at the White House when President Donald Trump signed an executive order on Improving Price and Quality Transparency in American Healthcare to Put Patients First.

“Like me, Iowans are concerned about rising health care costs, premiums and drugs,” she said in her resignation letter. “They have seen little progress dealing with a crisis on our southern border, despite the repeated efforts of President Donald Trump, and there does not seem to be an immediate resolution.

“Most importantly, Iowans are frustrated by the lack of progress and dysfunction in Washington,” she added.

A GOP candidate starts with a voter registration deficit of almost 22,000 active registered voters in the 2nd Congressional District, according to the Iowa Secretary of State’s Office. Democrats have 164,326 active voters registered, while Republicans have 142,560. However, 188,461 of the voters in the district are registered as no party or other.

Despite the voter registration disparity, the race is rated a tossup by political handicappers. In part, that’s because the district, which went for Democrat Barack Obama by double digits in 2008 and 2012, went to Republican President Donald Trump by 4 points in 2016.

• Comments: (319) 398-8375; james.lynch@thegazette.com

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