By Lindsay Hoeppner
"We're going to be the Massachusetts of the Midwest, in victory not in ideology. We're going to win in November in a race that could not be won."
So said Republican nominee Mariannette Miller-Meeks of Ottumwa last Monday during a stumping tour that took her on a town tour of Nichols, and to El Patio and Century Grille in West Liberty. She's facing Democratic Congressman Dave Loebsack of Mount Vernon this November for the state's Second Congressional seat.
Taking reference from Scott Brown, a Republican candidate who swept the predominately Democratic northeastern state in the U.S. Senate race following the death of Ted Kennedy last year, Miller-Meeks encouraged the roughly 30 community members and political supporters in attendance at a meet-and-greet at Century Grille that a Republican turnover is possible.
Such a turnover, however, is only achievable if proponents continue to show their support leading up to the Nov. 2 general election, said Miller-Meeks.
"I just want you to keep up the spirit and keep up the momentum," she said. "Continue talking to people, put out yard signs, and talk to your neighbors."
According to a September poll jointly commissioned by the National Republican Congressional Committee and the Miller-Meeks campaign, which was conducted by Brian Tringali of the Tarrance Group, Miller-Meeks and Loebsack are "locked in a virtual tie, and more voters want to replace the incumbent than re-elect him."
Of the 400 registered "likely" voters polled in the district, 40 percent indicated they were in favor of Miller-Meeks, whereas 41 percent indicated a preference for Loebsack.
What's more, only 38 percent of those polled said Loebsack deserves to be re-elected, where 47 percent indicated they would rather see a new person in office.
"Instead of considering this a solidly Democratic seat, now this is considered much more competitive," Miller-Meeks said. "We've known that all the time, but we just had to convince the powers that be that it was a competitive race, and we've done that."
Another boost for Miller-Meeks' campaign came by way of a Des Moines Register article that outlined what the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations considers to be the 23 most vulnerable Democratic-held House seats and plans to contribute $4 million to.
"Mr. Loebsack was listed as the 23rd most vulnerable," Miller-Meeks said. "So, when the unions are putting money into your race, you can either be flattered, or you can know that they consider it to be competitive and that his internal polling shows what our polling shows."
According to Joyce Gauger of West Liberty, who has met Miller-Meeks several times, the Republican nominee is "exactly what we need."
"She has the promise that our country is OK," Gauger said. "It needs a lot of fixing up and a lot of change, but there's nothing wrong with America."