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Election results 2022: Brenna Bird unseats Attorney General Tom Miller

A graphic showing Brenna Bird, the winner of the Iowa Attorney General race.
Guthrie County Attorney Brenna Bird and Iowa's Attorney General Tom Miller speak at the Des Moines Register's Political Soapbox at the Iowa State Fair.

Brenna Bird has won election to a 4-year term as Iowa Attorney General, per a call made by The Associated Press.

Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller won’t serve an 11th term as the state’s top legal official.

The Democrat and longest-serving attorney general in the nation said he called Republican challenger Guthrie County Attorney Brenna Bird last night to concede. The Associated Press called the race for Bird Wednesday afternoon, with her leading by less than 2 percentage points.

Bird told supporters in Des Moines last night she credited support from Iowa law enforcement for her victory. Miller told reporters he was “disappointed” in the result, but thankful for his 40 years as Iowa attorney general.

Tom Miller 2022 Concession Speech

“I’m thankful to the voters, despite the results tonight,” Miller said. “I’m very thankful to the voters that gave me the chance. Ten times, 40 years to be attorney general. Just a wonderful office. And I’m deeply indebted to Iowans.”

Reflecting on his 40 years in office, Miller said he was proud of his suit against tobacco companies to recover money for Iowa. He also touted his office’s focus on consumer protection.

“That was sort of my baby,” he said.

Miller was first elected to the office in 1978 and served from 1979-1991. He then ran for governor in 1990, but lost the Democratic primary. In 1995, he returned to his post as Iowa attorney general.

This year’s race was a rematch between Miller and Bird, who ran against each other for attorney general in 2010.

Election Results

Meet the Attorney General candidates

The attorney general's office represents the state in lawsuits, provides legal advice to state agencies, assists with criminal prosecutions and works on consumer protection and civil rights issues. Democratic incumbent Tom Miller faces Republican challenger Brenna Bird.

Brenna Bird

081322-brenna-bird-attorney-general-guthrie-county.jpg
Natalie Krebs
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IPR
Brenna Bird is running as a Republican for Iowa attorney general against long-standing incumbent Democrat Tom Miller.

Brenna Bird was elected as Guthrie County attorney in 2018 and is president-elect of the Iowa County Attorneys Association. She previously worked for former Ambassador Terry Branstad. Bird also challenged Miller in 2010 and lost, but Republicans believe they have a chance at beating Miller this year.

Bird has said she would defend all of Iowa's laws if they are challenged in court.

“We have a state Legislature that passes laws. Whose job is it to defend those laws when they are challenged in court? It’s the job of the attorney general," she said.

Tom Miller

Tom Miller at the Iowa State Fair Aug 17, 2022
Lucius Pham
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IPR

Attorney General Tom Miller is the longest-serving state attorney general in the United States. He's been Iowa’s attorney general from 1979 to 1991 and again from 1995 to present day.

He's participated in a variety of cases on behalf of the state, but recently recused himself from defending Iowa's "fetal heartbeat" law, and turned that case over to private attorneys. Miller said it was the ethical thing to do because he didn't feel he could zealously represent the state. He said that was only the second time in 40 years that he refused to defend a state law, and that it was a direct attack on "Iowa's version of Roe."

The issues

Abortion

Abortion access is the second most important issue for voters overall this election season. Bird is positioning herself against Miller as the candidate who would defend, among other things, abortion restrictions.

"I'm 100% pro-life, and it will be my job as attorney general to defend the law that legislature would pass," she said during a taping of Iowa Press on Iowa PBS.

Bird said she would have defended a 2018 Iowa law that would ban most abortions as early as six weeks into pregnancy.

Miller has said he believes overturning Roe v. Wade was a mistake.

“I think Roe was the right formula to deal with abortion in our country," he said. "And I think that a lot of women feel incredible threats in terms of their liberty, in terms of their freedom to take care of their own medical conditions, and I support them in that.”

Miller's office defended the state’s 24-hour abortion waiting period in court earlier this year and asked the Iowa Supreme Court to overturn very strong legal protections for abortion rights. The Supreme Court agreed, and that waiting period is now in effect.

The 2020 presidential election

Both candidates said they support the validity of the results of the 2020 election. However, Bird has expressed concern about "election integrity." She believes that Iowa’s election system works well and said that she supports measures like the state’s voter ID requirement.

Miller said he trusts election officials.

"They're independent, and when the numbers come from those county auditors, those are the right numbers," he said.

Electing judges

Both candidates say they oppose electing judges. Iowa's current system of selecting judges starts with judicial nominating commissions, which choose a few nominees. The governor then appoints judges from those recommendations.

Bird believes there is "some wisdom" to having judges confirmed by the legislature, while Miller says he opposes the Republican-backed law that gave the governor more power in choosing people to serve on the state judicial nominating commission.