Democrat Rita Hart withdraws challenge in Iowa-2 race


Last December, Democrat Rita Hart decided she would skip the courts in Iowa and appeal her 6-vote loss in the Iowa-2 congressional district directly to Congress. Speaker Pelosi wound up seating the certified winner of that race, Republican Mariannette Miller-Meeks but this month it seemed Democrats were serious about relitigating the outcome and possible handing the seat over to Rita Hart.

Today Hart suddenly withdrew her appeal but she didn’t exactly concede the election. Instead she blamed Republicans for an outcome she labeled a “stain on our democracy.” Here’s a portion of her statement:

After many conversations with people I trust about the future of this contest, I have made the decision to withdraw my contest before the House Committee on Administration. Since Election Day, and throughout this entire process, my mission has been about ensuring the voices of Iowans who followed the law are not silenced. I am saddened that some Iowans’ votes will not count through no fault of their own. The work of ensuring it does not happen again will continue beyond this campaign.

Despite our best efforts to have every vote counted, the reality is that the toxic campaign of political disinformation to attack this constitutional review of the closest congressional contest in 100 years has effectively silenced the voices of Iowans. It is a stain on our democracy that the truth has not prevailed and my hope for the future is a return to decency and civility.

I wish Mariannette Miller-Meeks all the best as she serves the people of this great state as Congresswoman. This has been a difficult process for all of those involved and it’s incredibly important that we work together to reform the system so this does not happen again in the future.

As recently as Monday, lawyers for Hart were arguing for overturning the certified results of the election, but some Democrats were increasingly worried about the optics this would create.

Iowa Democratic candidate Rita Hart’s legal counsel urged Congress on Monday to “count every vote” amid increasing pressure by Republicans to dismiss her case and growing skepticism by House Democrats of overturning the incredibly close 2020 race…

“The burden of proof in this matter lies with Ms. Hart, and her evidence would need to clear a very high bar to warrant action from the House,” Rep. Matt Cartwright, a Pennsylvania Democrat, told CNN. “Otherwise, election decisions made at the state and local level should be respected.”

So the final contested race of the 2020 election is over on the final day of March 2021. Initially, Rita Hart claimed she bypassed the courts because resolving the race there would take too long. But as it turned out another contested race that did go through the courts (NY-22) was settled nearly two months ago. This race could have also been settle weeks ago if Hart had simply appealed the outcome instead of trying to hand the decision over to Nancy Pelosi.

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Miller-Meeks website and Twitter feed haven’t published a statement reacting to the news as I write this but I’ll add it to this post if it pops up later. Miller-Meeks spent part of her day today visiting with constituents along with House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy. Because Miller-Meeks is an M.D. she was able to vaccinate some people today.

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