With typical election year retail politics curtailed by the COVID-19 pandemic, three Republican candidates, along with Lt. Governor Adam Gragg, were in Albia on Monday beating the streets with visits to numerous businesses and a noon gathering of GOP supporters.
Mariannette Miller-Meeks, running for U.S. Congress against Democrat Rita Hart, hoping to win the seat from retiring Democrat Dave Loebsack, incumbent Iowa Sen. Ken Rozenboom of rural Oskaloosa seeking re-election against Democrat Lance Roorda and unopposed Iowa House member Holly Brink of rural Oskaloosa were campaigning together for most of the day in Albia and Monroe County.
In visiting with all three, they agreed that the COVID-19 pandemic, health care and economic growth were foremost on the mind of voters.
Miller-Meeks was supportive of how both President Trump and Gov. Kim Reynolds had managed the pandemic. “Allowing individual states to deal with COVID-19 while providing necessary PPE and federal help for medical facilities and business was the right thing to do,” she said. “The governor recognized early that cities and counties across Iowa are different. Albia is different than Iowa City. Ottumwa is different than the Quad Cities.”
Miller-Meeks said the COVID-19 virus is extremely resilient and is a constantly moving target to keep under control. She complimented JBS (the Ottumwa packing plant) for its early and effective response to an outbreak of the virus. “I think Iowa has done things right,” she said.
She added that Iowa’s conservative budgeting has allowed the state to quickly crawl out from under the April shutdown of the economy.
Sen. Rozenboom echoed that sentiment. “The Council of State Governments rated Iowa #1 in resiliency in coming back from the shutdown,” he said, pointing to unemployment numbers dipping to 4.7 percent statewide. “The governor reopened our economy as early as any state knowing that you can’t do funding if your economy is shut down. She has recognized he gravity of the virus but has been able to guide us through the pandemic without destroying our economy, schools and churches.”
Lt. Gov. Gragg said the governor has worked hard to make sure hospitals across the state have everything they need to fight the virus.
He said Gov. Reynolds has governed knowing Iowans have to have the ability to work and that their children need to be in school. “She has struck the appropriate balance,” he said. “The bottom line is that we have helped families support themselves and helped manage the medical emergency while avoiding a lockdown of the state.”
Rep. Brink, who can’t legally spend campaign dollars because she is running unopposed, but is still campaigning for herself and other House members, talked about the problems of delayed care, isolation, drug abuse and domestic abuse through the pandemic, as did Miller-Meeks. “It has been really difficult on nursing home residents and their extended families,” she said. “The numbers associated with shutting down states don’t lie. We know that people are putting off regular medical visits and delaying care that could have serious long-term consequences.”
Brink was also sounding alarm bells about what she believes is fraudulent campaign financing for Democrat House candidates. She said Republicans have recently uncovered a long list of fake contributors to Democrat House candidates, all using a phony Iowa City (San Juan) to pour thousands of dollars of small donations to candidates.
“We know of one House candidate, having never run for office before, who has raised over $270,000. Democrats know they need to flip three seats to take back the House and they are spending millions from out of state donors to do it.”