Republican Congressional candidate Mariannette Miller-Meeks has been on a roll since her primary win in June. As she prepares to take on Democrat Rita Hart this fall, Miller-Meeks can point to a slew of good news to pump up the base and engage voters in her quest to turn the 2nd congressional district from blue to red. In just the last few weeks, the campaign was promoted to full Young Gun Status (the NRCC candidate program). She snatched the endorsement from the NFIB and nailed her opponent for supporting radical anti-farming legislation. Last week Mariannette announced a vast coalition of 114 AG leaders who endorsed her campaign.

“The movement we’re seeing on the ground has been very exciting. We’re seeing it in our fundraising, in our polling and you’re seeing it play out in the media, the 2nd district – our race, is the race to watch,” she told Iowa Field Report. 

State Senator Miller-Meeks has an impressive resume, but one experience has really stood out this year. In addition to being a veteran and an ophthalmologist, she served as the former director of the Iowa Department of Public Health. This unique qualification has allowed her to brief members of Congress, and state leaders on navigating the tragic reality of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

When asked how the pandemic changed her campaign and what she misses, she doesn’t hesitate to say that, “Certainly trying to campaign in Coronavirus is difficult, but it’s not as difficult as some of the circumstances people are facing. Some people have invested every ounce of their energy and their intellectual capital and financial capital into starting a business. They’ve taken a huge risk and seen it shut down. Now, knowing that business may not survive, that is heartbreaking.”

She elaborated further by noting that she gets her inspiration and motivation and energy from being around people. So not being able to listen to them interact and engage with them has been something she’s still coping with. Despite the changes, her operation has had to undergo to accommodate the virus she says she looks forward every day to hearing new ideas, suggestions, and criticisms as doing so makes her a better candidate and public servant. 

But the Coronavirus is not going to stop Mariannette; on the contrary, recognizing its importance has been critical for some of her campaign’s messaging and policy plans. She said that her campaign would continue to focus on issues surrounding it, especially healthcare, growing the economy post-pandemic, and ensuring that there is support for apprenticeships and skills training for those who need it.

Beyond those issues, she has strong views on holding China accountable for their past misdeeds and how they are currently behaving. One idea she highlighted is leveraging china’s long term aspirations and desire to be at the global table against them. “I think without harming our economy, without harming our trade with China, one of the ways you hold China accountable is through their position in international organizations,” she says, referencing the World Health organization and other large multination groups.  She proposes getting other international stakeholders to join the US in leveraging China’s desire to sit at the table with these organizations to gain concessions or force their hand. She explains this will hit at the heart of the aspirations and culture of the Chinese Communist Party.

This approach stems from her desire to balance China’s outrageous conduct and still account for their importance as a trading partner, especially for Iowa’s agricultural goods. This brings us back to the value she places on her new agricultural coalition. 

“We were very pleased with our new coalition, and by the way, there were more names we could have added,” touts Mariannette. The coalition comprises of elected leaders and lots of farmers. 

“We’re pleased with the support of our agriculture community and Secretary of Ag Mike Naig, who has really done a tremendous job in extraordinarily difficult circumstances with the pandemic and newly elected into his position. So it means a lot,” she declared

Miller-Meeks seems genuinely excited for the days and weeks to come leading up to the election. She believes there is a lot to talk about this fall and lots of distinctions between her and her opponent, former State Senator Rita Hart. Hart also identifies as a farmer, but when prompted with that, Mariannette makes it clear that she’s suspicious of Rita’s allegiances when it comes to Iowa farmers. The campaign has been hitting her opponent hard for Hart’s support of the Farm Systems Reform Act, legislation that would place new government regulations and limits on farms. 

“You can say you’re a farmer. But when you support the principles of legislation that would truly harm the average family farm that has tremendous financial penalties and basically puts the government in charge of Iowa agriculture, How do you reasonably call yourself a farmer?” She asked. 

Even though most political handicappers rate the seat a “toss-up,” the race is closer than some expected. This week the Congressional Leadership Fund released a poll they commissioned on the race. It showed a dead heat between Miller-Meeks and Hart. The survey was conducted at the end of July with a sample size of just over 400 and MOE of 4.9%