Fairfield Ledger

Mt. Pleasant News   Wash Journal
Neighbors Growing Together | Sep 19, 2018

Chelgren not seeking re-election

By Andy Hallman, Ledger news editor | Mar 12, 2018
Mark Chelgren

Iowa Sen. Mark Chelgren (R-Ottumwa) announced Saturday that he will not seek re-election for Iowa Senate District 41.

Chelgren made the announcement at the Wapello County Republican Party’s county convention in Ottumwa. Mariannette Miller-Meeks, formerly the state’s public health director and current ophthalmologist, announced she would run for the party’s nomination to fill Chelgren’s seat.

Chelgren told The Ledger today that several factors contributed to his decision.

“Given the direction of the country, this is probably the most exciting time to be an entrepreneur since the 1950s,” he said. “I’m excited about that opportunity. My daughter turns 13 soon, and I’m excited about spending time with my family. When I first ran, I felt the state and country were going in the wrong direction. We’ve turned a lot of things around and are now going in the right direction.”

Chelgren was elected to the Senate in 2010. He defeated Democrat Keith Kreiman by 11 votes to represent what was then District 47. Four years later, he defeated Democrat Steve Siegel to represent District 41.

According to a biography compiled by the Iowa Republican Party in 2014, Chelgren received a degree in Astro- and Geo-Physics at the University of California in Riverside. He founded and still owns a company that makes medical equipment to help people in wheelchairs. He relocated his company to Ottumwa in 2006, where he has lived ever since.

Miller-Meeks was the Republican Party’s nominee for the U.S. House 2nd District seat three times, in 2008, 2010 and 2014, each time falling to incumbent Democrat Dave Loebsack. She lost the first race by 19 percentage points, but narrowed the gap in her final two races where Loebsack won by 5 percentage points.

In 2010, former Gov. Terry Branstad appointed Miller-Meeks to direct Iowa’s Department of Public Health. In 2014, Miller-Meeks resigned from her post to devote full attention to the U.S. House race against Loebsack.

Two years later, Branstad nominated Miller-Meeks to the Iowa Hawk-I Board, which advises the state on health care coverage for uninsured children of working families. The Senate voted against Miller-Meeks’s confirmation. She needed a two-thirds majority, 34 votes, and received 28 votes in favor and 18 against.

Chelgren announced that he is endorsing Miller-Meeks.

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