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Miller-Meeks Takes Third Run At 2nd District
IOWA CITY, Iowa - The Second Congressional District may have shifted since Dr. Mariannette Miller-Meeks last ran for Congress four years ago but hundreds of thousands of voters could see a familiar matchup.
"The district is definitely different than it was in 2010," admitted Miller-Meeks, who traveled Eastern Iowa on Wednesday to meet with supporters after announcing that she is pursuing the Republican nomination to run against four-term Democratic Congressman Dave Loebsack. "It's a larger district and the registration is more favorable for a Republican running."
When Iowa dropped from five Congressional districts to four, the second district expanded from 15 counties to 24, losing Linn County but gaining Scott County (Davenport/Bettendorf) and a pocket of rural counties in south central Iowa.
In 2008, a very favorable year for Democrats, Loebsack defeated Miller-Meeks by 18 points. Two years later, in the Republican wave of 2010, Loebsack won 51%-46%. While Republicans captured the House of Representatives that year, Iowans returned all five Congressman to Washington, D.C.
"The difference was that the races (in 2010) were much more competitive," said Dr. Tim Hagle, UI professor of political science. That year, Democrat Bruce Braley of Iowa's First District hung on against Republican challenger Ben Lange by only 4,000 votes.
Yet both Braley and Loebsack won in 2012 by comfortable margins in redrawn districts.
The expansion of the Second District is sharp as it extends from Decatur County, in south Central Iowa now to the Quad Cities and even up to Clinton County. Two years ago, Loebsack won 15 of the 24 counties over Republican challenger John Archer and captured Johnson County by a 68%-31% margin and Scott County by a comfortable 54%-44% gap. Loebsack won the 2012 election by 49,000 votes.
Compare this with 2010 when Miller-Meeks lost by 11,000 votes and only five percentage points but still dropped Johnson County by 27 points, 62%-35%.
"Johnson County is, obviously, the anchor for Democrats in this particular district," said Hagle. "Even in a losing cause, if you can make the race competitive, it would force the Democrats to put resources into this race to ensure they hold onto the seat."
After three years as the state's director of public health, Dr. Miller-Meeks said a major campaign focus will be the Affordable Care Act, which Loebsack voted for in 2010 and Miller-Meeks criticized leading up to that election.
"No one expected the botched website and the law is affecting people in a variety of ways and a lot of them negatively," said Miller-Meeks before speaking to supporters Wednesday night at a meeting in Iowa City. "Go back to the issues. What are things people are concerned about? They're concerned about health care."
When reached for comment, Loebsack spokesman Nick Clarksen said that Miller-Meeks 'Tea Party views will play well with the extreme members of her party'.
Miller-Meeks responded by saying she has a track record from her years with the public health department of working with others.
"I was able to bring people together, reach consensus and actually do things that help the people we're trying to serve."