WILTON, Iowa–A little more than a year out from Iowa’s gubernatorial race, the Muscatine County Republicans hosted an outdoor dinner for Governor Kim Reynolds, National Congresswoman Mariannette Miller-Meeks, and Senator Joni Ernst. The event served as an opportunity for local voters and office holders to meet their state and national representation and to begin thinking about the campaign season.
After an invocation by Muscatine’s state representative Mark Cisneros, the Pledge of Allegiance led by Republican National Committee Member Steve Scheffler, and the National Anthem sung by Brenda Ochiltree, Iowa Republican Party State Chair Jeff Kaufmann introduced the three featured guests. He then proceeded to ask the governor, congresswoman, and senator a series of questions about themselves and what they have worked on over the past year.
To start, Kauffman asked Miller-Meeks, Reynolds, and Ernst to share a little about themselves by sharing who they consider their role models. Both Miller-Meeks and Reynolds emphasized the important roles their fathers played in shaping their outlook on life while Ernst said that her daughter, a cadet at West Point, gives her hope for how the youth of today will lead the country in the future. “I think about her and her friends and all the things they’ll do for our great country,” she said.
In a light-hearted gesture to celebrate a favorite story of Ernst’s, where she recalls using plastic bread sacks to protect her shoes from mud as a child, Kauffman presented Ernst, Miller-Meeks, and Reynolds with a pair of bread bags each, complete with their names monogrammed on them.
The talk then turned towards more serious matters, as each of the officials discussed what they had done over the past year. Reynolds discussed her handling of the pandemic, how she spent the early stages of it at the Iowa State Emergency Operations Center in regular communication with the national guard and public health officials, and how she worked to craft a recovery that she felt balanced personal responsibility with economic recovery. Reynolds touted Wallet Hub’s ranking of Iowa as the fastest state to recover as evidence of her recovery efforts’ success, saying she trusted, “our people to do the right thing and they did.”
Miller-Meeks shared that as a former state director of public health, she appreciated Reynold’s communication throughout the pandemic. She also talked about how as a physician (Miller-Meeks previously had an optometry practice) she used her extended time on the campaign trail while waiting for a final decision in one of Iowa’s tightest races ever, to discuss the science behind the safety and efficacy of COVID-19 vaccines and to even administer them to interested people. “I felt strongly about getting COVID-19 vaccines,” she emphasized.
Finally, Ernst commended the governor on her work over the last year. Ernst then discussed how she continued her 99 county tour throughout 2020, with public health measures in place, to allow her to continue to meet and talk with constituents in person and learn how events like the pandemic and derecho affected them.
To end the evening, both Miller-Meeks and Ernst offered their support to Reynolds in her upcoming reelection campaign. Ernst, Miller-Meeks, and Reynolds then briefly met with attendees.