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Will Miller-Meeks Become the First Iowa Woman Elected to Congress?

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In 2008, Miller-Meeks notched the best ever performance for a female Republican in an Iowa congressional race

While Iowa Democrat Roxanne Conlin has the unenviable task of taking on five-term GOP incumbent Charles Grassley up the ballot in the Hawkeye State's U.S. Senate race, down the ballot in the 2nd Congressional District Republican Mariannette Miller-Meeks is probably Iowa's best chance to break the glass ceiling and become the 46th state to elect a woman to Congress.

Aside from Socialist Workers Party candidate Rebecca Williamson in the 3rd CD, no other woman is on the ballot across Iowa's five congressional districts.

Iowa is one of just four states that has never had a woman serve in Congress (along with Delaware, Mississippi, and Vermont), and is one of five states to never have elected a women to D.C. (joined by North Dakota).

In the upper chamber race, Conlin is just the second major party female nominee in Iowa to appear on a general election ballot for a U.S. Senate contest. Conlin already holds the record for the best showing by a female candidate in a gubernatorial race in Iowa, winning 46.5 percent of the vote against Republican victor Terry Branstad back in 1982.

On the House side, Miller-Meeks, an ophthalmologist and U.S. Army veteran, is seeking a rematch against Democrat Dave Loebsack, who defeated her by 18.4 points in 2008.

The 38.8 percent won by Miller-Meeks in 2008 was the best performance for a female Republican running for Congress in Hawkeye State history, across the 642 general and special election U.S. House contests and 35 popular vote U.S. Senate elections that have been conducted since statehood.

Miller-Meeks bested the previous record of 37.2 percent notched by Sonja Egenes (pictured) in 1962 in her 5th CD loss to Democrat Neal Smith.

In 1976, Republican Joanne Soper won 31.5 percent of the vote in her 6th CD race against Democrat Berkley Bedell.

Miller-Meeks, Egenes, and Soper are the only three Republican women to make the general election ballot for either a U.S. House or U.S. Senate race in state history.

Overall, Miller-Meek's '08 campaign was the 12th most successful for an Iowa woman running for the U.S. House, out of the two dozen major party, minor party, and independent female candidates to have launched general election campaigns during the 161 years since the state's first elections in 1847 through 2008.

The most support ever received by a woman in a Hawkeye State House race was Democrat Lynne Cutler's 48.5 percent in 1980, when she lost to Republican Cooper Evans in the 3rd CD.

But the closest a woman came to winning a House seat came in 1992, when Democrat Elaine Baxter lost by just 1.8 points to Republican Jim Lightfoot, 48.9 to 47.1 percent, also in the 3rd CD.

Republican women running for U.S. House seats have not fared much better in Iowa's neighboring states, with the exception of Illinois.

No female GOPer has been elected to the U.S. House from South Dakota or Wisconsin, while just one has been elected in Minnesota (Michele Bachmann), Missouri (Jo Ann Emerson), and Nebraska (Virginia Smith).

Eight female Republicans have been elected to the House from Illinois (Judy Biggert, Marguerite Stitt Church, Winnifred Huck, Lynn Martin, Ruth McCormick, Charlotte Reid, Edna Simpson, and Jessie Sumner).

Of course, Miller-Meeks faces an uphill challenge in 2010, given her congressional district's +7 point Democratic tilt, as measured by the Partisan Voting Index.

Loebsack also held a slightly more than 2:1 campaign warchest advantage over her for the election cycle to date through June 2010.

However, Miller-Meeks now not only has the benefit of a national tilt back to the GOP, but also a strong top-of-the-ticket Republican gubernatorial candidate in former four-term Governor Terry Branstad.

She also has a new set of issues on which to campaign.

In 2008, Miller-Meeks campaigned to reform Social Security to allow personal savings accounts, to simplify the tax code (e.g. fair tax or flat tax), to revitalize the GI Bill, and to reform health care by realigning health insurance through a national risk pool with multiple insurance players. She also campaigned on the U.S. needing to develop a new 'industry of energy' that would help address energy and environmental concerns, enhance American economic opportunities and productivity, and bolster U.S. national security.

In her 2010 campaign, Miller-Meeks is highlighting a different set of issues, such as opposing amnesty for illegal aliens and securing the nation's borders, cutting spending and government waste, defending 2nd Amendment rights, opposing the "job-killing" cap and trade legislation, and repealing the controversial health care bill passed earlier this year.

Female U.S. House General Election Candidacies in Iowa

Year
CD
Party
Candidate
Percent
Place
2008
2
Republican
Mariannette Miller-Meeks
38.8
2
2008
2
Green Party
Wendy Barth
2.2
3
2008
4
Democrat
Becky Greenwald
39.4
2
2006
3
Socialist Workers
Helen Myers
1.6
3
2006
5
Democrat
Joyce Schulte
35.6
2
2006
5
Nominated by Petition
Cheryl L. Brodersen
1.4
4
2004
5
Democrat
Joyce Schulte
36.6
2
2002
1
Democrat
Ann Hutchinson
42.6
2
2002
2
Democrat
Julie Thomas
45.7
2
2000
2
Democrat
Donna L. Smith
43.7
2
2000
3
Independence
Sue Atkinson
2.2
3
1996
2
Democrat
Donna L. Smith
45.9
2
1996
4
Democrat
Connie McBurney
46.7
2
1994
3
Democrat
Elaine Baxter
41.0
2
1994
4
Socialist Workers
Angela Lariscy
0.3
5
1994
5
Democrat
Sheila McGuire
39.0
2
1992
2
Democrat
Elaine Baxter
47.1
2
1988
1
Nominated by Petition
Judy Stav-River
0.9
3
1982
3
Democrat
Lynn G. Cutler
44.5
2
1980
1
Socialist
Gloria Williams
0.4
4
1980
3
Democrat
Lynne G. Cutler
48.5
2
1976
6
Republican
Joanne D. Soper
31.5
2
1974
4
American
Donna Le Porte
0.6
3
1962
5
Republican
Sonja C. Egenes
37.2
2
Table compiled by Smart Politics from data from the Iowa Official Register and Office of the Clerk, U.S. House of Representatives.

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3 Comments


  • good luck for Miller - Meeks!!i wish for your victory on your candidacy..

  • Although I am not a resident of the State Of Iowa. I grew up at that time in a small area of Minnesota. I had a single parent mother who worked to raise the four of us. Nothing upset her more then the pure fact our health system and tax system would someday make a serious impact on our lives. Our current tax system is broken and has been cluttered with more and more ways our own system now works against us. It maters not who makes it into the congress at this point. What matters is a common sense approach to the issues Miller is trying to say. I hope she does well, and that she takes a good stand in the Fair Tax Bill. Its not a fix all. Yet, it has been said. The day it goes into effect, this economy will make a turn bigger then anyone could imagine.

  • Mariannette Miller-Meeks is a extremist and a liar,A Tea bagger if you might say.

    If she were a Moderate Republican she might have a chance but she is Toast.

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