# Joel Miller



How Joel Miller won the Democratic race for Iowa secretary of state

Going into the June 7 primary, I anticipated a close Democratic contest for secretary of state. Linn County Auditor Joel Miller and Clinton County Auditor Eric Van Lancker had few substantive disagreements and few opportunities to reach a mass audience. The campaign received relatively little news coverage, and the candidates didn’t get speaking time at the Iowa Democratic Party’s large fundraiser in April.

While Miller’s home base was in a larger county, Van Lancker had raised and spent much more on the secretary of state campaign. His team had a paid consultant, purchased the Iowa Democratic Party’s voter file, and began significant digital advertising two months before the primary. Van Lancker spent $5,863 on Facebook ads alone, making tens of thousands of impressions, according to Meta’s ad library. In contrast, the majority of Miller’s campaign spending went toward collecting enough signatures to qualify for the ballot.

The result was surprisingly lopsided: Miller received 97,896 votes (71.7 percent) to 38,602 (28.3 percent) for Van Lancker. The winner carried 98 counties, losing only Clinton, where voters had previously elected Van Lancker four times.

I interviewed Miller about his victory on June 8 and reached out to engaged Democratic voters for insight on how they picked a candidate for this race.

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Favorite wildflowers of Iowa's 2022 Democratic ticket

For this post-primary election edition of Iowa wildflower Wednesday, I asked all of Iowa’s Democratic nominees for federal or statewide offices about their favorite wildflowers.

The candidates could choose any flowering plant. It didn’t have to be a native species or one that tends to bloom in Iowa around this time of year.

I’m presenting the wildflower choices in the same order the candidates appeared on the Iowa Secretary of State’s 2022 primary candidate list.

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Statewide candidates deserved better from Iowa Democratic Party

Democratic candidates for U.S. House, U.S Senate, and governor were given speaking time at the Iowa Democratic Party’s annual Liberty and Justice Celebration on April 30.

But the party’s three statewide elected officials and candidates for other statewide offices were relegated to pre-recorded videos. Even worse, those videos seemed designed for comic relief, rather than as a way for candidates to connect with hundreds of activists who attended the Des Moines fundraiser.

The missed opportunity was especially regrettable for Joel Miller and Eric Van Lancker, who are competing against each other in the June 7 primary for secretary of state.

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Van Lancker highlights early voting in first ad

Iowa Democrats have only two competitive statewide primaries this year: for U.S. Senate and for secretary of state. Both Democrats running for the latter office are long-serving county auditors who are not widely known outside their home counties (Linn County for Joel Miller and Clinton County for Eric Van Lancker).

Van Lancker began introducing himself to a wider circle of voters this week with his first digital ad. The 60-second spot highlights the benefits of early voting. According to an April 5 news release, the campaign will release a 30-second version of this ad for television in May. Under a law Republicans enacted last year, Iowa’s early voting period will begin on May 18, just 20 days before the June 7 primary.

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Lopsided governor's race imperils whole Democratic ticket

The filing deadline for campaign finance disclosures is always an exciting day for political reporters. My plan for this week was to write a series of posts about fundraising and spending for each of Iowa’s statewide races: governor, attorney general, state treasurer, secretary of state, state auditor, and secretary of agriculture.

I shifted gears after reviewing the latest reports for Governor Kim Reynolds and Deidre DeJear, the only Democrat actively campaigning for governor.

Unless things change dramatically in the coming months, Reynolds will be able to use most of her war chest to help down-ballot Republicans.

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