By Josh O'Leary
Johnson County's pack of Republican candidates, marching to the cadence of job creation and lower taxes, said the wind is at their backs heading into the homestretch before Election Day.
Congressional candidate Mariannette Miller-Meeks told a crowd of about 60 supporters that Iowans are ready to shake up their current leadership -- a rallying cry echoed by her fellow candidates who took to the podium at Sunday's annual Johnson County Republicans barbecue at the Johnson County 4-H Fairgrounds.
"Our time is now," Miller-Meeks said. "There is a wave coming through, and that wave is going to wash Dave Loebsack out with the tide."
Miller-Meeks, an ophthalmologist from Ottumwa, is challenging Rep. Loebsack, D-Mount Vernon, for the second congressional district seat after losing to him in 2008.
Miller-Meeks stressed self-reliance, drawing upon her personal story of leaving home at 16, enlisting in the Army at 18, working her way through medical school and becoming a small business owner.
"That's the American dream," she said. "And that's what's at stake in the this election."
She said government's role all too often is that of a roadblock rather than serving as a partner of the people to help them succeed.
"Cut taxes, cut spending, create jobs," she said of her goals. "Allow us to move and empower people toward self-reliance."
Sandy Greiner of Keota, the Republican candidate challenging incumbent Becky Schmitz, D-Fairfield, for the State Senate District 45 seat, said Iowa is in debt "because of the irresponsible spending of the majority party."
Greiner said a record 114,000 Iowans are out of work, and the state has been driven further in the red because of Gov. Chet Culver's I-JOBS program.
"They were going to give us 30,000 jobs; instead they lost us 30,000 jobs," said Greiner, who has served 16 years in the Iowa legislature as both a representative and senator.
Jared Klein, a Keota farmer who is challenging Rep. Larry Marek, D-Riverside, in state House District 89, said Republicans have seized the momentum this election season and urged voters to keep that energy going beyond the election.
In the state House District 29 race, Shawn Graham of Springville, who is challenging incumbent Nate Willems, D-Lisbon, said as a small business owner, he hopes to make Iowa more business friendly.
Graham said the No. 1 thing he hears from other small business owners is, "Let me keep my money and get out of my way if you want jobs created,"
As for the governor's race, Bob Anderson, chairman of the Johnson County Republican Central Committee, said Terry Branstad showed a "great command of the issues and knowledge of the state" in Thursday's debate against Democrat incumbent Chet Culver. Branstad is seeking a return to the statehouse serving as governor from 1983 to 1999.
"We have a good ticket," Anderson said. "We all have to give a finial push in these last days."