URBANDALE — First-term Republican Mariannette Miller-Meeks has hopes of becoming a majority-party congresswoman, but to do that she and her GOP colleagues have to score victories during the 2022 U.S. House midterm elections.
She expects that to happen and believes history is on her side.
Currently, Democrats hold a majority of 219 seats in the House, with Republicans claiming 211 and five seats vacant.
Historically, Miller-Meeks said, the minority party gains an average of 27 seats in the mid-year election.
She told a packed Westside Conservative Club breakfast gathering Wednesday that it will take some hard campaign work, but “we will gain a majority in 2022 and you’re going to help us to do that.”
While President Joe Biden has enjoyed favorable ratings since taking office in January, his administration is facing crises at the U.S. southern border, in the Middle East and with the economy, she contended, as well as getting pushback from “far-left” members of his party as he walks back pieces of his infrastructure plan and works to negotiate compromises.
“I think we’ve got a lot of great candidates, and I think that President Biden and his administration are overreaching,” the Iowa 2nd District congresswoman told the crowd.
“I think right now you have a president who is battling in crises and crises of their own creation,” she noted, “and they’re going to lose the support of the American people.”
After the event, Miller-Meeks said the president’s early favorability rating is high, but his policies are not faring well.
“I think there are going to be challenges going forward as they try to appease the far left of the Democratic Party but remain what people thought was a moderate person that was being elected president,” she said.
Miller-Meeks is wrapping up her second swing through her 24-county district in Iowa’s southeast quadrant, saying she’s enjoying doing constituent work but not necessarily eager to get back on the campaign trail after surviving “a never-ending campaign.” That included an overtime challenge to her six-vote victory over Democrat Rita Hart that spilled over into the U.S. House until Hart ended her 2020 challenge in March.
“Ultimately, our strategy worked and we prevailed, but make no mistake about it, we were in a staring contest with Nancy Pelosi,” Miller-Meeks told the partisan gathering. “Pelosi blinked.”
The Ottumwa Republican — who told the crowd “you just can’t keep changing the rules to get whatever result you need” in criticizing Hart’s decision to bypass the court to seek redress in the U.S. House — was challenged by one attendee for voting in favor of a bipartisan commission to investigate the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol and not speaking out on election integrity over the 2020 vote.
“It was not an easy decision,” Miller-Meeks said.
She said she was one of 35 Republicans who favored a bipartisan commission to support Capitol police she felt were being wrongly blamed for a security breach and intelligence breakdown, to investigate Ashli Babbitt’s death during the riot, to have equal bipartisan representation to subpoena witness testimony, and to establish a time line that ultimately could help President Trump — whose impeachment she opposed.
Miller-Meeks also defended her decision to get fined for not wearing a mask in defiance of House COVID-19 rules once she felt the chamber had achieved herd immunity through vaccinations and should be modeling leadership to the nation, which she did by “putting my money where my mask was.”
Going forward, she said she expected Iowa would have competitive 2022 races, with the 3rd District seat held by Democrat Cindy Axne likely to be affected the most by redistricting.
“Most of the seats that we gain are going to be in swing districts so it’s going to take a lot of work and a lot of effort,” Miller-Meeks said.
This week former Iowa Rep. Abby Finkenauer was among a group of former congressional members who formed a Shield PAC — a new political action committee designed to define and shield the most at-risk House moderates from GOP efforts to tie them to socialism and other ideas that are toxic in their districts.