Miller-Meeks says new poll puts her close to Loebsack

Wednesday, October 27, 2010
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By Gregory R. Norfleet

Mariannette Miller-Meeks clicked her way through her smartphone Friday for a recording, and a table of diners at Herb N' Lou's leaned in to listen.

It was a newly finished campaign ad for the 2nd Congressional District candidate, with her 80-year-old mother narrating.

There were about a dozen present to meet the candidate, and the handful around the table listening to the ad expressed approval.

"There's nothing better than your own mother coming out swinging for you," the Ottumwa Republican smiled.

But Miller-Meeks was happy for much more than that - she was touting a GOP poll that showed her in a statistical dead heat with incumbent Democrat Dave Loebsack. In the poll, Loebsack is ahead with 41 percent of voter support, and Miller-Meeks has 40 percent, with a 4.9-percent margin of error.

Miller-Meeks said there are many factors in her favor as she runs for the second time - more of Loebsack's voting record, name recognition from the 2008 campaign, and "the climate is different."

She also said she feels challenged by the fact that Iowa has not sent a woman to Congress, or to the governor's office.

Miller-Meeks said she is not discouraged by recent endorsements for Loebsack from her hometown paper or the right-leaning Cedar Rapids Gazette. And she feels it necessary to stump through strong Democrat-voting cities like West Branch.

"Never avoid a place or people because they are not of your political party," she said. "When you are elected, they become your constituents. ... (and) the most effective way to address reservations or concerns is by listening to them - that changes a voter from someone who would vote for a party to someone who would vote for a person."

While listening to concerns, Miller-Meeks said that job creation and the economy, deficit spending and the national debt, and cap and trade coupled with the new health care bill, are three areas of most concern.

The ophthalmologist said problems with the health care bill are that it will not decrease health care costs, premiums are already going up, it is not "portable," it interferes with the doctor-client relationship and it involves more than 100 new agencies in the process.

"I believe in universal access to health care," she said, but wants to find a way to do that affordably, offers portability, sustains the doctor-patient relationship and promotes cures.

Responding to criticism of her call for a "fair tax" and that it would increase taxes on the middle class, Miller-Meeks said the "fair tax" is only one method of tax reform. She said she has never stated a percentage and she has not called for a tax increase.

"If (Treasury Secretary) Tim Geithner, (New York U.S. Rep.) Charles Rangel and (former South Dakota Senator) Tom Daschle can't figure out how to pay their taxes," she said. "We need tax reform."

Originally published in the West Branch Times on October 27th, 2010.

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