DES MOINES, Iowa – Rita Hart announced on Wednesday that she dropped her challenge of U.S. Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks’ election in Iowa’s 2nd Congressional District.
After a district-wide recount by bipartisan canvassing boards, Miller-Meeks, a Republican, defeated Hart, a Democrat, by six votes. The bipartisan state canvassing board then certified the election.
In December, Hart announced she would bypass contesting the Iowa 2nd Congressional District race results in Iowa’s courts. Instead, her campaign filed a petition through the U.S. House Committee on Administration under the Federal Contested Election Act.
Hart filed the petition, and Miller-Meeks, who was sworn in provisionally, filed a motion to dismiss. The committee tabled Miller-Meeks’ motion opening up the possibility that the U.S. House could overturn the election results.
“After many conversations with people I trust about the future of this election, I have made the decision to withdraw my contest before the House Committee on Administration. Since Election Day, and throughout the entire process, my mission has been about ensuring the voice 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 the campaign,” Hart said in a released statement.
“Despite our best efforts to have every vote counted, the reality is that the toxic campaign of political disinformation to attack the 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,” she added.
Hart then wished Miller-Meeks well and thanked her supporters.
National Republican Congressional Committee spokesman Mike Berg said he was glad Hart “came to her senses.”
“We are glad Rita Hart finally came to her senses and admitted the truth: the people of Iowa chose Dr. Mariannette Miller-Meeks to represent them in Congress. We won’t let voters forget that Democrats will do whatever they can to subvert democracy if given the opportunity,” he said.
Miller-Meeks’ campaign attorney Alan Ostegren countered Hart’s claims in a released statement:
“Since the recount process started after Election Day, the Miller-Meeks campaign was focused on ensuring that the votes of Iowans were properly counted under the laws that they themselves had chosen. This is why the campaign worked hard to ensure that the recount would be conducted in an evenhanded and lawful manner. The Hart campaign did not have the same goal,” he said.
Ostegren brought up two examples to make his point. In Johnson County, he said the Hart campaign fired its recount board representatives when she refused to go “scorched earth” by objecting to ballots cast in Miller-Meeks’ favor. In Jasper County, the Hart campaign representative, Ostegren said, voted to accept the results of a flawed machine recount that went in Hart’s favor after being told the machine wasn’t functioning properly.
“Throughout the recount process, it was clear that the Hart campaign, aided by its Washington, D.C. legal team, had clear instructions to object to every Miller-Meeks vote it could find,” he said adding that the Miller-Meeks campaign was prepared for a challenge under Iowa law.
“Rita Hart was prepared to inflict terrible damage on our political system. Thankfully this has been avoided,” Ostegren concluded.
Hart dropped her challenge after a growing number of House Democrats expressed concerns about the possibility of overturning the election results.
Miller-Meeks on Wednesday afternoon released a video on Twitter in response to a phone call she received from Hart.
Thank you to the people of Iowa’s 2nd district! #ia02 pic.twitter.com/bTTA0wfwlX
— Dr. Miller-Meeks (@millermeeks) March 31, 2021