UI law professor Christina Bohannan announces bid for Congress

Rep. Christina Bohannan announced her intent to challenge Rep. Marianette Miller-Meeks Tuesday.


Jerod Ringwald

Iowa House Representative Christina Bohannon gives a speech during her birthday celebration in Iowa City on Friday, July 2, 2021. (Jerod Ringwald/The Daily Iowan)

Natalie Dunlap and Rylee Wilson

A University of Iowa professor is running for Congress.

Rep. Christina Bohannan, who represents Iowa City in the state House of Representatives, announced her intent to run for Iowa’s 2nd Congressional District on Tuesday, making her the first Democrat to enter the race.

She will challenge Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks, the Ottumwa Republican who won the 2nd district by six votes in 2020.

In a fundraising email announcing Bohannan’s campaign, she poised herself as a friend of working Iowans. She said she grew up in a mobile home and her family financially struggled when her father got sick and his insurance was canceled.

“I’m running for Congress because there is so much at stake — for our kids, our families, and our communities,” she said in a statement shared on Tuesday morning. “People like my dad, who work hard and do their part, should be able to make a living without the fear of everything they worked for being ripped out from under them.”

Bohannan told The Daily Iowan she spoke with Democrats, Republicans, and independents living in the district before deciding to run.

“One thing people really want is someone who puts them and their daily needs ahead of party politics,” she said. “I think that that’s probably the main thing I’ve heard over and over.”

Bohannan said the last two people to represent the district, Rep. Dave Loebsack, D-Iowa, and Rep. Jim Leach, R-Iowa, were independently minded in Congress. She would put the district ahead of herself or national partisan politics, she said.

On the closeness of last November’s race, Bohannan said Iowa’s 2nd Congressional District is diverse in the communities it encompasses.

“We have people of all different walks of life, all different kinds of experience and all different points of view, and that’s perfectly fine that’s as it should be, and I look forward to representing all of them,” Bohannan said. “I really believe that I can connect with the district. My background is that I grew up in a very rural area, a very small town.”

Bohannan said her family’s financial struggles because of her father’s illness are similar to struggles that others in Iowa’s 2nd District have experienced, such as small business owners in the pandemic.

“I really want to give people a fair shot and I think that people throughout the district believe that that’s what they want from their representatives and that’s the kind of representative I will be,” she said.

On Tuesday morning, Miller-Meeks released a statement criticizing Bohannan’s votes in the state Legislature against the “Back the Blue Act” — which created harsher penalties for protestors and greater protection for police officers — and against an act banning mask mandates in schools.

“Elections are about leadership and direction. I am certain that the voters of Iowa’s Second Congressional District want a congresswoman who has proven her commitment to building a better future for working families, Iowa and the nation rather than one whose vision of the future is more division and social unrest, less support for law enforcement, and less personal freedom for those of us who play by the rules,” Miller-Meeks wrote.

Bohannan, who hosted a Democratic fundraiser on her 50th birthday in July — with attendants including gubernatorial candidate Rep. Ras Smith, D-Waterloo, candidate for the 1st Congressional District Sen. Liz Mathis, D-Hiawatha, and Senate candidate Abby Finkenauer — said she is excited by what is currently happening in Iowa’s Democratic Party.

“We have a lot of really great Democratic candidates for 2022 and I think it’s really exciting a lot of people … The thing that really strikes me about all of these candidates is they are very hardworking, and they have never been given anything,” Bohannan said. “They have worked for everything that they’ve gotten, and they work very very hard for their constituents, and so I’m very pleased to be in their company, and I’m excited to see what happens with their campaigns just as I’m excited about mine.”

Rylee Wilson contributed to this article