OTTUMWA — There was a reason why Adrian Dickey 10 times mentioned Mariannette Miller-Meeks' six-vote margin of victory in a congressional contest that went into overtime.
It's because Dickey's political fate was inextricably tied to Miller-Meeks'.
Miller-Meeks' victory over Democrat Rita Hart allowed Dickey's political career to begin. With plenty still up in the air in January and Miller-Meeks provisionally seated in the U.S. House of Representatives, Dickey put his name into the race to replace her in the state senate. What transpired was a 1,000-vote win over Mary Stewart for the right to finish Miller-Meeks' term.
Now, with Congress in recess, Dickey is grateful for his opportunity.
"Our party has made great strides in the last four years, and we've strengthened our election process in the state," Dickey said during Thursday's Republican Party of Iowa gathering at Bridge View Center. "Deep down, this is a wake-up call for us. You know literally how precious each and every vote is."
Dickey, who represents District 41, serves on three committees in the capitol — Labor and Business Relations, Ways and Means, and Transportation, of which he is vice chair.
Despite being in the seat for a handful of months, Dickey has been effective at passing legislation, especially for bills aiding local fire departments and other emergency services.
"After 29 years of being a volunteer firefighter, it was important to me to be the voice for and support this group of brave volunteer men and women," he said in his final newsletter of the session. "So much of District 41 depends on volunteers in rural areas. Passing legislation to allow them to travel faster (in their personal vehicles) to the scene of an emergency only made sense."
Still, for someone who hadn't even contemplated running for office, he was rewarded by filling a seat he only had 18 days to campaign for.
"The doors opened for me," said Dickey, who currently sits in a Senate with a 32-18 Republican advantage. "The number one question I get, since I've been elected, is, 'Are you enjoying it?' The simple answer is I'm enjoying this more than I ever thought I would have, and I had some pretty high expectations.
"It's a wonderful experience," he said to the crowd. "I've always held to my core that we can't let that minuscule minority dictate to our majority, and allow policies that have no common sense."
Dickey is the president of family-owned Dickey Transport trucking company in Packwood, and because of his time with the company, was seated as the vice chair of the Transportation committee his first day in office.
"I was not expecting this honor, but I was very humbled to be put in that leadership role," he said. "With that position, I was able to draft, run and pass several bills for drivers who carry CDLs to get them renewed in a much easier and quicker manner."
Dickey has been proud of the votes he took to allow citizens to carry guns without a permit, as well as bills to support law enforcement and changes to election laws and allowing schools to remain open during the pandemic.
"This legislative session was not without its difficulties," he said. "But I'm proud of the legislation we've passed, and the bills we signed into law. I ran to protect what common sense looks like. The experience has been beyond humbling."