The Des Moines Register | August 25, 2022

"Tom Miller has been Iowa’s attorney general for nearly 40 years, regularly winning his races by double digits.


This year is likely to be different.

Buoyed by Gov. Kim Reynolds’ large fundraising and polling advantages and President Joe Biden’s low approval numbers, Iowa Republicans are hoping to retake the few statewide offices still held by Democrats.

Miller’s opponent, Guthrie County Attorney Brenna Bird, is running an aggressive campaign promising to sue the Biden administration and arguing Miller isn’t active enough in his office. The contest will be a rematch. Miller defeated Bird in 2010 by 11 percentage points, but so far this year Bird is outraising, and outspending, the incumbent.

Miller, the nation’s longest-serving attorney general, said he recognizes the state’s politics have shifted rightward since the last time he was on the ballot, and he acknowledged there’s been some 'blowback' against Democrats who control the federal government. But he still likes his odds this year.

'I feel good about the race, confident about the race,' he told reporters Aug. 17. 'But my nature is never to take anything for granted, and that’s important in politics.'

The outcome of the election could change the way the office handles criminal prosecutions, battles against opioid manufacturers and lawsuits against the Biden administration.


Bird, meanwhile, has gone on offense, accusing Miller of not working for Iowans.

'He’s a lazy liberal,' she said at the Iowa State Fair. 'He’s not working for us. He’s not doing the job that we need to get done.'

She’s emphasized her work as a county prosecutor and said she’ll support law enforcement in office — something she said Miller hasn’t been vocal enough about.

'When I’m attorney general, we will back the blue and we will work with law enforcement,' she said in her own Soapbox speech.


Who gets sued? The attorney general decides

Bird, if elected, is eager to join a wave of Republican attorneys general around the country who have sued the Biden administration over laws, rules and executive actions they say amount to overreach.

'I have news for Joe Biden when I’m attorney general,' Bird said at the State Fair. 'I’ll see you in court.'

She criticized Miller for not bringing lawsuits against the Biden administration, pointing to Miller’s endorsement of Biden ahead of the 2020 Democratic caucuses.

'I think the problem is that Miller has been Biden’s attorney general,' she said. 'And I would be Iowa’s attorney general.'

Her case to voters is that if Republicans win back control of Congress this fall, Biden won’t be able to accomplish his agenda through legislation and will have to rely more on executive orders.

'It will become even more important that Iowa has an attorney general who will stand up for freedom, who will stand up for farmers and who will enforce the federal constitution and laws on the federal government,' she said.


Bird leads Miller in cash, spending

Bird has raked in cash this year, backed by a significant investment from national Republicans. Since Jan. 1, Bird has raised $714,002, including a $200,000 donation from the Republican Attorneys General Association Action Fund.

In that same time, Miller has raised $528,534. He’s also been supported by the Democratic Attorneys General Association, which gave him $150,000.

Bird has also outspent Miller this year, spending $176,727 from Jan. 1 through July 14 compared to Miller’s $99,858.

Bird said her biography and her message are both resonating with Iowans.

'I get a lot of positive support because people want a prosecutor, they want somebody who works with law enforcement,' she said. 'They want somebody who will work hard for Iowa, not for Biden.'

Bird has pointed to a poll of registered voters conducted July 13-14 and released by the Iowans For Tax Relief Foundation that found the two candidates nearly tied, with Miller at 44.5% and Bird at 44%. Iowans For Tax Relief, which is led by a Republican former Iowa lawmaker, advocates for lowering taxes and "limited government."

She said she’s traveling to all of Iowa’s 99 counties during her campaign — a strategy crafted by Republican U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley and emulated by many of Iowa’s successful statewide candidates.

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