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Miller-Meeks visits the 'Burg

BY ALEKSANDRA VUJICIC | MAY 14, 2014 5:00 AM

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The Hamburg Inn bustled as forks clanked and people chowed down on their scrambled eggs and toast. Mariannette Miller-Meeks made her way around the tables to speak with local residents Tuesday.

On her third attempt at beating Rep. Dave Loebsack, D-Iowa, to represent Iowa’s 2nd Congressional District, she is making a stop at each of the 24 counties that make up the district. She called it the “Full Grassley,” leading up to the June primaries, as she follows in the footsteps of Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, who visits all 99 counties every year.

The former eye doctor and director of the Iowa Department of Public Health said people are concerned about health care.

“We want people to know that despite the lies that were told with the health-care bill, this time they can keep their doctor and lose their congressman,” Miller-Meeks said, referring to Loebsack.

She said some of the main problems with the Affordable Care Act are the lack of personalization and its “one-size-fits-all agenda.”

But her opponent from across the aisle doesn’t find merit in her claims.

“Republicans seem to be hell-bent on once again giving big insurance companies the ability to stop people with pre-existing conditions from getting insurance, increasing prescription-drug payments for seniors, not allowing young adults to stay on their parents' insurance, and going back to the time when women were charged more for their health care,” said Nick Clarksen, Loebsack’s political director.

Local resident Edgar Thornton said one of Meeker-Mills’ greatest strengths is her experience with and knowledge of medical issues.

“I like my doctor, and I want to be able to pick my doctor, and I don’t want to necessarily have to use certain doctors that are offered,” Thornton said. “Personally, I think we need some type of health-care system that needs reform, and we need some type of change, but I’m not sure the change that we have today is the right change.”

Miller-Meeks also spoke to the crowd about the rising take-home pay in a “sluggish” economy.

“Lower-income people, they see gasoline rising, they see food prices rising, electricity is rising, and policies we’ve had in our state help us, but nationwide, we need to do more,” Miller-Meeks said.

Another local resident, Carol Ann Christiansen, agreed with Miller-Meek’s about how the current government is handling social and economic issues. 

“She mentioned something about being in a bubble in Washington, D.C.,” Christiansen said. “I sincerely think they are in a bubble. They don’t know what it’s like trying to make ends meet in this economy, worrying about ‘Well can I go see this doctor that I’ve been seeing for the past 20 years or can I not?’ ”

“She gets it,” Christiansen said.

Miller-Meeks said the bureaucracy is becoming too big, and government accountability is lacking. She brought up the recent controversy with hidden delays in VA Hospitals that are currently under federal investigation.

“We’ve seen what’s happened at the VA hospitals these past couple of weeks, and that’s a travesty,” Meeker-Mills said. “As a 24-year veteran, if we can’t take care of our men and women who have served our nation so admirably, then you have to look at your priorities and say ‘Who’s being held accountable for this?’ ”

UI Associate Professor of political science Cary Covington said most primary elections, historically, run on issues that are particularly relevant to the people of the district.

In recent election years, there have been more wave elections, in which the issues are more focused on the national “wave” that moves the public one way or another, he said.

“[Miller-Meeks] is probably thinking there’s going to be kind of a national mood, and she wants to plug into it to help her win the election here in Iowa,” Covington said. “It’s effective when constituents are really motivated by those national issues.”

Right now, he said, the campaign is focused on mobilizing the Republican base and energizing the relatively smaller number of people who vote in midterm elections.


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