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Paul aids Miller-Meeks’ campaign

BY REBECCA MORIN | AUGUST 06, 2014 5:00 AM

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After months of “celebrity” politicians visiting Iowa to advocate for the Republican ticket — including Mitt Romney, Marco Rubio, and Sarah Palin — one congressional candidate has been added to the list.

Mariannette Miller-Meeks, the Republican candidate for the 2nd Congressional District, alongside Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., met with nearly 130 Johnson County constituents on Tuesday for a campaign fundraiser at the University of Iowa’s University Club.

With this being her third time running for the seat, Miller-Meeks is now receiving support from more than just voters.

Paul, who previously met Miller-Meeks at the Iowa GOP State Convention in June, endorsed the Army veteran of 24 years at the afternoon fundraiser.

“I think when you get that kind of recognition [from a national politician], for your campaign and the work that you do, people see the momentum,” Miller-Meeks told The Daily Iowan. “I’m a better candidate than I was. Our message really resonates with people, and people can tell that there is sincerity and authenticity, and so when you put that all together, it provides a lot of momentum.”

Dianne Bystrom, the director of the Catt Center for Women and Politics at Iowa State University, said Iowa has historically re-elected incumbents more than in any other state.

In the 2012 election, 66 percent of incumbent men and women running for the House of Representatives won, and approximately 34 percent of male and female challengers won in the House of Representatives election that same year.

“Oftentimes, women only run once,” Bystrom said. “I do believe she’s become a better candidate each time. Having said that, she is still running as a challenger.”

Despite a new national endorsement, Bystrom said she doesn’t know how many votes Miller-Meeks will garner.

“The vision of Dr. Miller-Meeks working alongside Sen. Paul is hardly a sight for sore eyes and would mean a blurry future for Iowans,” said Jennie Johnson, the campaign manager for 2nd District incumbent Rep. Dave Loebsack, D-Iowa. “It is not surprising that Sen. Paul will raise money for Dr. Miller-Meeks. They both support privatizing Social Security, ending Medicare as we know it, and gutting education funding.”

Bystrom noted that research shows that endorsements only typically help with media attention rather than actual votes.

Christopher Larimer, an associate professor of political science at the University of Northern Iowa, agreed that the celebrity backing will not rally voters.

“A national endorsement from Rand Paul I doubt is going to change the minds of voters,” Larimer said. “Going at it a third time, I still think [Miller-Meeks] has a tough road ahead.”

But this isn’t the going to be the last visit from a possible presidential candidate that Miller-Meeks will see.

On Friday, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal will visit Knoxville, Iowa, to give his nod to Miller-Meeks.

Bob Anderson, a member of the GOP State Central Committee, said he thinks Miller-Meeks’ credibility has made this election competitive.

“I think that’s why you’re getting the national attention,” Anderson said. “If the race was all in one direction, you wouldn’t find national candidates here. But because it’s a very competitive race, people are here supporting … she has a substantial chance of winning.”


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