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Mariannette Miller-Meeks

IA-02: First-quarter fundraising news roundup

by: desmoinesdem

Thu Apr 17, 2014 at 10:25:00 AM CDT

Three candidates qualified for the Republican primary ballot in Iowa's second Congressional district, but the latest fundraising reports suggest that Mariannette Miller-Meeks will get a third chance at beating Representative Dave Loebsack.

Follow me after the jump for details on the first-quarter reports each candidate in IA-02 filed with the Federal Election Commission.

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IA-02: Mariannette Miller-Meeks is in for the third time

by: desmoinesdem

Mon Feb 17, 2014 at 13:55:00 PM CST

Catching up on news from last week, Mariannette Miller-Meeks filed a formal statement of candidacy in Iowa's second district with the Federal Election Commission (hat tip to Greg Hauenstein). An ophthalmologist based in Ottumwa, Miller-Meeks was the Republican nominee against Representative Dave Loebsack in both 2008 and 2010. She served as director of the Iowa Department of Public Health from early 2011 until resigning last month.

I have not seen any formal campaign announcement yet from Miller-Meeks, but she has been attending central committee meetings and other Republican events around the 24 counties in IA-02 for some time. During the past month, she has met with GOP central committee members in Johnson County, Marion County, and Mahaska County. She attended an off-year caucus in the Quad Cities (Scott County). Last week Miller-Meeks tweeted a photo of her campaign co-chairs in Muscatine County--the home base for State Representative Mark Lofgren, who announced his campaign in IA-02 last summer. Lofgren has a lot of support in the GOP establishment but has not raised much money for his Congressional bid.

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Door wide open for Miller-Meeks in IA-02

by: desmoinesdem

Tue Feb 04, 2014 at 09:10:39 AM CST

Can someone please explain Mark Lofgren to me? If you're going to the trouble of getting in a Congressional race early and lining up a bunch of endorsements (presumably to deter would-be rivals in your own party), why wouldn't you work hard on fundraising? Lofgren's year-end financial report was even weaker than his third-quarter Federal Election Commission filing, which is saying something.

Lofgren isn't giving four-term Democratic incumbent Dave Loebsack a thing to worry about, and he's leaving the door wide open for Mariannette Miller-Meeks to come in and take the Republican primary to represent IA-02. Follow me after the jump for details from the FEC reports.  

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Miller-Meeks resigns from the Iowa Department of Public Health

by: desmoinesdem

Thu Jan 09, 2014 at 09:35:00 AM CST

Governor Terry Branstad's office announced today that the governor accepted Mariannette Miller-Meeks' resignation as director of the Iowa Department of Public Health. I've posted the press release after the jump. It does not explain why Miller-Meeks stepped down after nearly three years running the state agency.

Yesterday Miller-Meeks told the Des Moines Register that her false comment about Mountain Dew being the top purchase for Iowa food stamp recipients was "not political at all."

"What I was trying to - perhaps not deftly - argue or state was: Should we have nutritional education for SNAP [Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program], like we do for WIC [aid for Women, Infants and Children], and some prohibition for certain items?"

I would guess that her resignation is related to plans to run for Congress in Iowa's second district, not any gaffe about food stamps. Heck, in the Republican Party what Miller-Meeks said probably isn't even a gaffe.  

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Where did Miller-Meeks get her "fact" about food stamps and Mountain Dew?

by: desmoinesdem

Mon Jan 06, 2014 at 11:08:31 AM CST

In an excellent two-part series on food stamps and the need for food assistance in Iowa, Mike Wiser caught Iowa Department of Public Health Director Mariannette Miller-Meeks in an embarrassing lie:

"The No. 1 food item bought with food stamps in Iowa is Mountain Dew," said Miller-Meeks, director of the Iowa Department of Public Health [in a speech to the World Food Prize Hunger Week symposium in October].

Several in the audience of a few hundred -- an international crowd of academics, journalists and nonprofit types -- shook their heads or smiled with bemusement. Phones came out, tweets were sent.

But what Miller-Meeks said wasn't true.

At least not in any verifiable way. The Iowa Department of Human Services -- the state agency that oversees the food stamp program, correctly called Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program, or SNAP, in Iowa -- doesn't track food purchases down to the brand of soft drink. Asked where she came up with the statistic, Miller-Meeks later said through a spokesperson she "found it online" but couldn't remember where.

Bleeding Heartland has long argued against cutting food assistance for many reasons. The SNAP program addresses real need efficiently and is rarely abused. In addition, government spending on food assistance has tremendous "bang for the buck" compared to most other policies designed to stimulate the economy. I recommend reading the full text of Wiser's latest reports on the rhetoric and reality of the food stamp debate and on reasons private aid agencies are struggling to help all the hungry Iowans.

Today I want to speculate on how a fake "fact" about food stamp purchases landed on Miller-Meeks' radar.

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Seeking information on a push-poll in IA-02

by: desmoinesdem

Thu Dec 12, 2013 at 08:05:00 AM CST

I've heard several accounts of a push-poll going around Iowa's second Congressional district since shortly before Thanksgiving. The call apparently asks about four-term incumbent Dave Loebsack, his declared Republican opponent Mark Lofgren, and his 2008 and 2010 opponent Mariannette Miller-Meeks, who appears likely to run for Congress again. Some Republican-aligned entity clearly paid for the calls, because the script alleges that millions of people have lost their health care (a reference to many health insurance plans being cancelled for not meeting new federal requirements). The script also suggests that Loebsack lied about the health care reform law he voted for in 2010.

I encourage Bleeding Heartland readers to stay on the line and take notes whenever you receive a push-poll or a legitimate survey testing messages for or against any candidate. If you received a call like this recently in IA-02, any details you can remember would be helpful, such as the question wording, question order, or who paid for the call (should be mentioned at the end). You can either post information in this thread or contact me confidentially: desmoinesdem AT yahoo.com.

One person thought the call came from "Victory Polling." The Davenport-based political consulting firm Victory Enterprises has a polling division and has been doing work for Lofgren's campaign. It's also possible that the National Republican Congressional Committee or some conservative group that gets involved in House races would pay for calls hitting Loebsack on health care reform.  

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Crowded Republican primary coming in Iowa House district 91

by: desmoinesdem

Thu Oct 10, 2013 at 09:52:00 AM CDT

Kevin Hall reported for The Iowa Republican blog yesterday that a fourth candidate is planning to seek the GOP nomination in the open Iowa House district 91. Republican State Representative Mark Lofgren is vacating the seat to run for Congress against four-term Democratic incumbent Dave Loebsack. It's a swing district where President Barack Obama outpolled Mitt Romney in the 2012 election, even as Lofgren was re-elected.

Hall provided some background on Gary Carlson:

Carlson is an executive with HNI, the parent company of HON Furniture in Muscatine. HNI is a global company, with 10,000 employees. Prior to being a vice-president at HNI, Carlson was the president and CEO of the Muscatine Chamber of Commerce. He also served as the vice-president at the Bandag Corporation, where he managed Bandag operations in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa from 1974-1997.

I wonder whether all three other declared GOP candidates in House district 91 (Emily Lofgren, Mark LeRette, and Mark Cisneros) will follow through before the filing deadline next March. So far only one Democratic candidate has announced in the district, John Dabeet.

Speaking of Mark Lofgren, I find it pathetic that ten days into the federal government shutdown, he's said nothing about the situation on his Congressional campaign website, twitter feed, or Facebook page. Most of the Iowans running for Congress have given some idea of whether they favor a "clean" continuing spending resolution to fund the federal government, or whether they would insist on conditions such as defunding/delaying the 2010 health care reform law. Lofgren is doing lit drops and attending Republican fundraisers, but he has nothing to say to a wider audience about the most important job of Congress: passing a budget. If Mariannette Miller-Meeks takes another shot at IA-02 (and I think she will), I hope she destroys Lofgren in the primary. She crushed three GOP rivals in 2010 before losing the general election to Loebsack.

UPDATE: Bleeding Heartland user Columcille points out in the comments that Emily Lofgren dropped out of the House district 91 race on October 11. She says she will focus on getting her father elected to Congress. Lofgren ran her father's 2010 Iowa House campaign against a Democratic incumbent.

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More Iowa Congressional voting and reaction to the government shutdown

by: desmoinesdem

Fri Oct 04, 2013 at 12:19:06 PM CDT

It's time for a new post on how Iowa's representatives in the U.S. House and Senate are handling the ongoing shutdown of non-essential federal government operations. (Click here for details on Congressional votes and Iowa political reaction up to October 1.)

Thousands of Iowans who work for the federal government or serve in the National Guard still have no idea when they'll receive their next paycheck. The best news I've heard all week is that an estimated 66,000 Iowa women and children who receive benefits through the WIC program will get their checks for October, at least.  

Although there has been no progress toward an agreement on a continuing spending resolution, I've noticed one big change in Iowa Congressional voting during the last few days. Whereas Representatives Bruce Braley (IA-01) and Dave Loebsack (IA-02) were sticking with most of their fellow Democrats in earlier votes on federal spending, this week both Braley and Loebsack have joined House Republican attempts to fund the federal government in bits and pieces. Follow me after the jump for more details.

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Iowa Congressional voting and comments on the government shutdown

by: desmoinesdem

Tue Oct 01, 2013 at 10:38:19 AM CDT

The 2014 fiscal year began at midnight. Congress is ringing in the occasion with the first partial federal government shutdown since the mid-1990s. The U.S. House and Senate have been unable to agree on a continuing spending resolution, because most House Republicans insist on defunding or delaying the 2010 health care reform law as a condition of funding most government operations.

Details on Iowa Congressional votes on budget resolutions are after the jump, along with comments from all the Iowans in Congress and many of the candidates for U.S. House or Senate.

Authorization for most federal agricultural programs also expired at midnight, and it's not clear when Congress will be able to agree on a short-term extension or a new five-year farm bill. Toward the end of this post I've enclosed some comments on the failure to pass a farm bill.

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IA-02: Three signs Mariannette Miller-Meeks will go for it

by: desmoinesdem

Thu Sep 19, 2013 at 07:35:00 AM CDT

A few months ago, Iowa Department of Public Health Director Mariannette Miller-Meeks confirmed that she is considering a third Congressional campaign against Representative Dave Loebsack (D, IA-02). I am becoming more and more convinced that she will enter the Republican primary, where she would face State Representative Mark Lofgren.
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A few links and two inconvenient truths about obesity in Iowa

by: desmoinesdem

Tue Aug 20, 2013 at 16:45:55 PM CDT

Public policy has been slow to make a dent in the obesity epidemic, which turns out to be "a lot more deadly than previously thought." But a new report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control shows that Iowa is one of eighteen states where obesity among low-income preschoolers declined by a statistically significant amount from 2008 through 2011. An estimated 14.4 percent of low-income two- to four-year-olds in Iowa were obese in 2011. Iowa Department of Public Health officials credited several programs with helping to reverse the trend.

Adult obesity is still a major health problem, according to the latest "F as in Fat" report by the Trust for America's Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Iowa had the twelfth-highest adult obesity rate in the country at 30.4 percent in 2012. The sort-of good news was that for the first time in decades, obesity rates held steady in most states. But it's depressing to see that the adult obesity rate exceeds 20 percent in even the "healthiest" state of Colorado now. As recently as 1991, not a single state had an obesity rate that high.

Speaking to Radio Iowa about the new obesity estimates, Iowa Department of Public Health Director Mariannette Miller-Meeks had sensible advice:

"People don't have to go out and do a programmed physical aerobics program for 30 minutes or an hour or two hours a day. [...] Just eating less, a plant slant to your diet, and trying to get in 30 minutes of exercise a day."

Mark my words: the Iowa Farm Bureau and other groups representing industrial agriculture will go nuts over Dr. Miller-Meeks encouraging Iowans to bring "a plant slant" to their diet, especially if she runs for Congress a third time in Iowa's second district. But here's an inconvenient truth for Big Ag: peer-reviewed research shows that "meat consumption is associated with obesity" in U.S. adults.

Here's the second inconvenient truth: even if everyone ate responsibly and exercised regularly, Americans would be more prone to obesity because of exposure to certain chemicals, such as the endocrine disruptors Bisphenol-A (BPA) and phthalates, and some organotins used in pesticides. Long-term, low-level exposure to the prevalent herbicide atrazine can cause insulin resistance and obesity too (click here for an explanation of that research in layman's terms).

Three years ago, a White House Task Force on Childhood Obesity called on federal and state agencies to "prioritize research into the effects of possibly obesogenic chemicals." That won't happen in my lifetime, at least not in Iowa.

P.S.- For anyone wondering, Iowa Department of Public Health Medical Director Dr. Patricia Quinlisk warns against ingesting a tapeworm as a weight-loss method.

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IA-02: Mark Lofgren is first Republican to challenge Dave Loebsack (updated)

by: desmoinesdem

Tue Jun 25, 2013 at 16:50:00 PM CDT

State Representative Mark Lofgren of Muscatine will formally announce tomorrow that he is running against four-term Representative Dave Loebsack in Iowa's second Congressional district, James Q. Lynch reported today for the Cedar Rapids Gazette. After the jump I've posted Lofgren's official bio and material from the "issues" and "endorsements" pages of his campaign website. Of the seventeen current Iowa House Republicans and four former state representatives who have endorsed Lofgren, four live in Loebsack's district. Dan Dolan, who lost last year's GOP primary in IA-02 to John Archer, has also endorsed Lofgren.

As of June 2013, the 24 counties in IA-02 contain 170,130 active registered Democrats, 138,390 Republicans, and 180,950 no-party voters. Loebsack defeated Archer by a comfortable margin in 2012, but in the 2010 midterm election he needed help from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee to fend off a challenge by Mariannette Miller-Meeks, winning by only about 11,000 votes in what was then a more Democratic-leaning district.

Governor Terry Branstad appointed Miller-Meeks to lead the Iowa Department of Public Health in 2011. The GOP challenger to Loebsack in 2008 as well as 2010, Miller-Meeks has attended some Republican Party events this year and confirmed last week that she is still considering a third Congressional bid. Having fallen short in the 2010 Republican wave, Miller-Meeks would likely face an uphill battle persuading GOP primary voters that she deserves another chance to win this district.

Lofgren's decision leaves Iowa House district 91 open for the 2014 election cycle. This swing district currently contains 6,300 registered Democrats, 6,291 Republicans, and 8,401 no-party voters. A detailed district map is at the bottom of this post. Democrat Nathan Reichert represented the Muscatine area in the Iowa House for three terms, losing to Lofgren in the 2010 wave. Lofgren defeated Democratic challenger John Dabeet last year by 915 votes.

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Weekend open thread: Rand Paul in Iowa edition

by: desmoinesdem

Sun May 12, 2013 at 07:05:00 AM CDT

What's on your mind this weekend, Bleeding Heartland readers? Rand Paul was in Cedar Rapids on Friday to headline the Republican Party of Iowa's spring fundraiser. Links and highlights are after the jump. Nothing I read convinced me that Paul has any chance of becoming president someday, but count on him to try.

Speaking of Rand, did you know that he was never board-certified? I learned that recently from an ophthalmologist and eye surgeon. After I mentioned that Iowa Department of Public Health Director Mariannette Miller-Meeks is also an ophthalmologist, she looked up Miller-Meeks in the academy database and commented, "She's well-trained." Miller-Meeks did her residency at the University of Iowa and a fellowship at the University of Michigan. She is board-certified and was re-certified about ten years ago.

This is an open thread: all topics welcome. In previous years I've posted Mother's Day links here, here, and here. Best wishes to those who celebrate today, and healing thoughts to those who grieve on Mother's Day.

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Kim Lehman not seeking another term on RNC

by: desmoinesdem

Thu May 24, 2012 at 14:09:46 PM CDT

Iowa's Republican National Committeewoman Kim Lehman announced today by e-mail that she will not seek another term on the RNC this summer.
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Open seat improves Democrats' chance in Iowa House district 57 (updated)

by: desmoinesdem

Fri Jan 06, 2012 at 07:05:00 AM CST

Iowa House Assistant Majority Leader Steve Lukan announced yesterday that he will not seek a sixth term in the state legislature. His retirement improves Democrats' prospects of picking up the new Iowa House district 57.

UPDATE: Democrat Nancy Dunkel is running in this House district. Background from her January 6 press release is below.

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Iowa Congressional 3Q fundraising news roundup

by: desmoinesdem

Mon Oct 17, 2011 at 07:45:59 AM CDT

October 15 was the deadline for Congressional candidates to file reports on their third-quarter fundraising with the Federal Election Commission. Follow me after the jump for highlights from the filings for incumbents and challengers in Iowa's four new Congressional districts.

I'm covering the districts in reverse order today, because based on second-quarter filings, political junkies are most closely watching the money race in IA-04 and IA-03.

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IDPH won't eliminate top job on smoking prevention

by: desmoinesdem

Mon Aug 08, 2011 at 10:23:57 AM CDT

Iowa Department of Public Health Director Mariannette Miller-Meeks on Friday reversed plans to eliminate the top administrator's position at the Division of Tobacco Use Prevention and Control. Her comments came several hours after Democratic State Senator Jack Hatch predicted "legal action" to challenge the way IDPH downsized its smoking prevention programs.
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Budget cuts cause shake-up in Iowa smoking cessation efforts

by: desmoinesdem

Tue Aug 02, 2011 at 07:29:05 AM CDT

Iowa Department of Public Health Director Mariannette Miller-Meeks insisted on August 1 that state efforts to reduce and prevent smoking will continue deep despite budget cuts, which just cost a senior department staffer her job.
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IA-02 update: Loebsack moving, Republicans declaring

by: desmoinesdem

Thu Jul 07, 2011 at 10:04:38 AM CDT

Representative Dave Loebsack has closed on a new house in Iowa City, a move that will enable him to run for re-election next year in Iowa's second Congressional district. The new map of political boundaries put Loebsack's longtime Linn County home in the first district, represented by fellow Democrat Bruce Braley. Loebsack announced plans to move into IA-02 the first day Iowa's map was proposed.

Loebsack said he chose Iowa City in order to be close to his son, daughter-in-law and grandchild. Johnson County has the second-largest population in the new IA-02 and is Iowa's most Democratic-leaning county by far, with more than twice as many Democrats as Republicans. As of July 2011, the county dominated by Iowa City and its suburbs contained 40,177 registered Democrats, 18,275 Republicans and 31,927 no-party voters.

Since winning the 2006 election, Loebsack has represented Iowa's current IA-02, which has a partisan voting index of D+7. In other words, in last two presidential elections, the current IA-02 voted about seven points more Democratic than the national average. Loebsack won re-election in 2008 by more than a 20-point margin against Mariannette Miller-Meeks, but he was sweating it last fall. Both his campaign and the and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee put up negative television commercials against repeat GOP nominee Miller-Meeks (see here, here and here). Loebsack ended up winning by a 49.7 percent to 44.7 percent margin.

The new IA-02 has a partisan voting index of about D+4. According to the Iowa Secretary of State's office, the Congressional district contained 503,218 active registered voters as of July 2011: 178,562 registered Democrats, 139,359 Republicans, and 184,692 no-party voters.

Not only does Loebsack's new district lean slightly less Democratic, the incumbent has never represented its most populous county. Scott County includes the Iowa side of the Quad Cities. As of July 2011, it contained 36,303 registered Democrats, 30,305 Republicans and 46,914 no-party voters. Braley lost Scott County in his narrow 2010 win over Republican Ben Lange in IA-01. Lange said in May that he will not move to IA-02 to challenge Loebsack. He has not ruled out a rematch against Braley in the new IA-01.

On July 6, Republican John Archer announced that he has filed paperwork to run for Congress in IA-02. Archer lives in Bettendorf, one of the Quad Cities, and is senior legal counsel for the John Deere company. He also serves on the Pleasant Valley school board. So far Archer's campaign website has only buttons for donors and volunteers and a link to the candidate's Facebook page. After the jump I've posted the full text of his campaign announcement.

Last month another Scott County Republican, Dan Dolan of Blue Grass, said he would challenge Loebsack in 2012.

Dolan, who has operated Dan Dolan Homes in Davenport for 20 years, said his decision to run is motivated by frustration with what he describes as "professional politicians." [...] Dolan is upset with the nation's accumulation of debt and what he sees as an unwillingness by those already in office to do anything about it. [...]

Dolan said the recent congressional redistricting in Iowa helped motivate him to consider running for office. He noted that the new district boundaries comprise a large portion of the areas where his company has a presence with housing developments.

According to dandolanhomes.com, Dolan's company has housing developments in Davenport, Muscatine, Blue Grass, Clinton, LeClaire and Iowa City.

Democratic-leaning Clinton County is the third most-populous in the new IA-02, and Loebsack has not represented that county before either. Braley carried Clinton against Lange in 2010.

UPDATE: Tea party activist Richard Gates announced plans last month to run for the Republican nomination in IA-02. He is a veteran and machinist from Keokuk (Lee County), and also midwest administrator for the conservative group 912 Patriots for Action. Inspired by Glenn Beck, he became active in politics in early 2009. He supports replacing all income and corporate taxes with a consumption tax (the so-called "fair tax" reform). During the last election cycle, Gates endorsed Chris Reed, who finished third out of four candidates in the IA-02 primary.

Lee County leans Democratic, but it has one of the highest unemployment rates in Iowa. Loebsack barely led Miller-Meeks there in 2010.

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Iowa Senate passes abortion clinic bill on party-line vote

by: desmoinesdem

Mon May 16, 2011 at 21:35:57 PM CDT

On a party-line 26 to 23 vote, the Iowa Senate today approved a bill to restrict the locations of clinics where abortions are performed after 20 weeks gestation. Senators also rejected an attempt to bring up a broader ban on abortions after 20 weeks.

Follow me after the jump for background and details on the Senate debate, including the various amendments Republicans offered.

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