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Rep. Miller-Meeks beats back conservative primary challenge in Iowa race

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Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks, R-Iowa, on Tuesday fended off a conservative GOP primary challenge, setting up what is expected to be a close race this fall with a Democratic challenger.

Miller-Meeks won against David Pautsch, an advertising executive, former Army tuba player and Gold Star father in the race for the GOP’s nomination for the 1st congressional district.

Miller-Meeks was first elected to Congress in 2020 by a slim margin of just six votes but expanded that advantage in 2022.


Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks

U.S. Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks, R-Iowa, speaks during a House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs Subcommittee on Health hearing Feb. 15, 2024. (Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images)

She had racked up a sizable financial advantage over her challenger, entering the final stretch of the primary campaign with nearly $1.9 million in the bank, compared with just slightly more than $6,000 for Pautsch. 

She had touted endorsements from Gov. Kim Reynolds and Attorney General Brenna Bird. Pautsch, meanwhile, picked up the endorsements from Trump allies, including former Gov. Mike Huckabee and My Pillow CEO Mike Lindell.

By mid-May, Miller-Meeks had spent about $1.4 million on the race, nearly 50 times what Pautsch spent.

Both had made conservative appeals in the primary race. Miller-Meeks described herself as a “proven conservative,” while Pautsch accused her of voting “against you and the Republican platform over 40% of the time.”


Pautsch had criticized Miller-Meeks for not being tough enough on abortion, immigration and the national debt, according to The Des Moines Register. And he accused her of being a Republican in name only (RINO).

He also criticized her for voting to certify President Biden’s presidential election. Miller-Meeks dismissed the criticism as something to be expected in a typical primary campaign and has also pointed to her A+ rating from Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America and her vote to pass the House border security bill in 2023. 

David Pautsch with President Trump

Businessman David Pautsch with former President Trump (David Pautsch For US Congress)

“I think the most important thing to realize about primaries is that, on the Republican side, your primary opponent is going to go to your right, and on the Democrat side, your primary opponent is going to go to your left,” she said, according to the Register. “And it’s up to you to be able to explain why you vote the way you vote.”

Miller-Meeks will now face former state Rep. Christina Bohannan, who is unopposed in the Democratic primary


Miller-Meeks defeated Bohannan in the 2022 general election, 53% to 47%. The 1st district as a whole went for former President Trump in the 2020 election, voting for him by about three percentage points over President Biden.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

Get the latest updates from the 2024 campaign trail, exclusive interviews and more at our Fox News Digital election hub.

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