Mariannette Miller-Meeks, the Republican candidate in Iowa’s 2nd Congressional District, came out of the gate on election night accusing her Democratic opponent of advocating for socialism and “heartless policies.”
Miller-Meeks concluded a lengthy press release quoting Winston Churchill: “Socialism is a philosophy of failure, the creed of ignorance, and the gospel envy, its inherent virtue is the equal sharing of misery.”
Framing all Democrats as socialists has been a tactic of the Republican Party and its candidates in recent years, usually regardless of where a Democratic candidate stands on the ideology scale.
Rita Hart, the Democratic nominee, is no one’s idea of a radical candidate, but that is the tone Miller-Meeks has set for the next six months leading up to the general election.
“Our opponent preaches ‘a return to normal’ but there is nothing normal about socialism,” Miller-Meeks said in a statement Tuesday night. “There is nothing normal about abolishing employer-provided health insurance. There is nothing normal about raising taxes on middle-class families. There is nothing normal about leaving our borders wide open, especially during a devastating pandemic. There is nothing normal about bowing down to China.
“The Democrats’ old and tired policies and ideas have failed,” she continued. “They rob you of your liberty and individuality and they are heartless.”
Our opponent preaches a return to normal but there is nothing normal about socialism. The Democrats’ old and tired policies and ideas have failed. Their policies and ideas rob you of your liberty and individuality and they are heartless. #ia02 pic.twitter.com/jDTx7Cdj1J
— Dr. Miller-Meeks (@millermeeks) June 3, 2020
Miller-Meeks’ laundry list of accusations sound more like she is running against a far-left candidate, not Hart, who represented a small-town swing district for six years in the Iowa Senate.
On election night, Hart issued a short statement focused on “leadership that brings people together.”
“Whether it is health care, economic development, justice, public safety, or education, I will always work to put Iowans ahead of politics and provide real solutions to our toughest problems,” Hart said.
In a video message Wednesday, the first day of the general election, Hart welcomed voters across the political spectrum to her campaign.
It’s the first day of General Election. We need leadership that brings us together to work on issues like health care, public safety, justice for all, the economy, and education. No matter if you are a Democrat, Republican, or Independent, we want you on this team. Join us! #IA02 pic.twitter.com/Uk7TChvbEy
— Rita Hart (@RitaHartIA) June 3, 2020
“I want you to know that whether you are a Democrat, Republican or an independent, we want you on this team so that we can work together on real solutions,” she said.
Today, Hart’s campaign announced “Republicans for Rita,” a group of 20 Republicans from across southeast and Eastern Iowa who have endorsed her candidacy, including Jill Davisson, a former Clinton County supervisor.
“Rural Iowans need a voice in Washington,” Davisson said. “Rita is a farmer and taught in rural schools for 20 years. I worked with Rita in a bipartisan way to address the mental health challenges we face in Clinton County. She is a problem solver and her commitment to her community will serve us well in Congress.”
Miller-Meeks’ general election strategy is unsurprising given how the 2nd District primary played out.
Miller-Meeks and fellow Republican Bobby Schilling constantly lobbed insults at each other during the seven months they both were in the race. When Schilling found out he had cancer in the final weeks of the race, Miller-Meeks’ campaign declined to take down a negative TV ad, saying Schilling’s campaign was “badly underfunded” and didn’t have “the capacity to challenge Rita Hart in the general election.”
“I think it’s going to be a very tough fight,” Miller-Meeks, now a four-time candidate in the 2nd District, said Wednesday on the Simon Conway radio show. “It’s critical that we win this seat. It’s critical that we take the majority in the House. I honestly believe we’re in an existential fight for what it means to be an American.”
By Elizabeth Meyer
Iowa Starting Line is an independently-owned progressive news outlet devoted to providing unique, insightful coverage on Iowa news and politics. We need reader support to continue operating — please donate here. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook for more coverage.