In a brazen political power play, former state legislator Rita Hart continues to challenge U.S. Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks for Iowa’s Second District seat, which Miller-Meeks won several months ago.
The same progressives who demanded Americans accept the results of last year’s presidential election and wouldn’t allow examination of state laws, now are willing to disenfranchise voters and allow the U.S. House to install a Democrat in place of the state-certified winner.
“They want the power to invalidate elections held at the state level and federalize elections,” political strategist Josh Holmes said Tuesday. “This is why the first bill introduced by a unified Democratic government was H.R.1, which is all about trying to congeal power for themselves. It’s about changing the election law to make it impossible for Republicans to compete.”
In November, Miller-Meeks beat Hart by just six votes, even after a recount. Hart challenged that result in U.S. Congress, rather than through the state’s court system, asking a Democrat-led committee to investigate ballots she alleges were not properly counted.
Hart has persisted with her challenge, claiming that if 22 other legally cast ballots were tabulated, she would win the race. The House does reserve the right to seat whomever it deems the winner, but the petition by Hart is extremely unusual since Congress has not overruled local election officials since 1986.
Last week, the House Administration Committee postponed a motion to dismiss Hart’s tantrum “until the Committee considers the merits of this contested election case.” The majority Democrat committee gave both campaigns until March 29 to file written responses to a series of questions.
“Her refusal to put her claims before neutral judges in Iowa tells us everything we need to know about the weakness of her case,” Miller-Meeks’ campaign attorney Alan Ostergren said. “Hart ignored Iowa law during the recount and again when she failed to make her case before a contest court in Iowa. Hart’s power quest is wrong and damages our electoral system. She hopes that her fellow Democrats in Washington, D.C. will ignore Iowa law and the precedents of the House to grant her the seat in Congress that the voters denied her.”
Asked a question during her weekly press conference, Speaker Nancy Pelosi essentially admitted she wants Washington, D.C. to pilfer power from 400,000 Iowans by putting the election in the hands of Democrats.
“I respect the work of the committee,” she rambled. “They were following my, as I read it, the requirements of the law as to how you go forward. And how you go forward is the path you’re on, and we’ll see where that takes us.”
The Wall Street Journal concluded a recent editorial, “The party is on the precipice of creating a precedent, for the first time in a generation, that a partisan majority in Congress can disregard state officials and redo a close election count according to its own preferences. All their high-minded talk about respecting the voters seems to apply only when Donald Trump is challenging the results. This blatant Democratic power play would inspire more partisan bitterness — and further erode voter faith in elections.”
Even newspapers that endorsed Hart called the former teacher’s actions inappropriate and urged her to accept defeat. Some Democrats are uneasy about potentially swapping Miller-Meeks for Hart.
“I want to see what compelling reasons there are for the feds to get involved in this,” Rep. Lou Correa told CNN. “I think these are issues that right now are probably best left at the state level.”
The bipartisan Iowa State Canvassing Board, along with the 12 Republican and 12 Democratic county auditors in the district, certified the results of the race in November. Secretary of State Paul Pate relayed an official result of 196,964 to 196,958 in favor of Miller-Meeks. The retired ophthalmologist was sworn in Jan. 3, joining several Republican women who flipped a blue district in the 2020 cycle.
House members had a final chance to contest electoral irregularities months ago, and none did.
“Every Democrat voted that every election was perfect, efficient, valid and every representative should be seated,” Miller-Meeks said. “No one contested my race.”
Meanwhile, for the last 11 weeks, Miller-Meeks has been doing her job, including visiting the border Monday, receiving a Tuesday endorsement from Nikki Haley’s congressional PAC, then speaking to Guy Benson Wednesday and the Ruthless Podcast Thursday.
“I was ahead on election night, at the official county canvass, and after all ballots were examined, we had a bipartisan recount,” Miller-Meeks said in part. “She could have appealed to impartial Iowa courts if she had concerns but decided to skip that because she knew she’d lose, so she took it to Congress. You can’t change rules because you don’t get the result you need. People should be outraged because of the precedent this sets. It further undermines and erodes people’s confidence in our election system.”
Politically and geographically diverse, Iowa-Two is hyper-competitive every two years. For the past century, the district has continuously alternated between Republican and Democratic representatives. The area covers southeastern portions of the Hawkeye State, including liberal locales like Davenport and Iowa City, along with farmland stretching from the Mississippi River to just east of Des Moines.
There’s no more succinct conclusion than the Editors’ Friday post at National Review: “The people of the second district deserve to be represented in Congress, and to have their choice respected once the legal process for state election contests has been exhausted. Democrats should be ashamed for even calling that into question.”
Update: On Monday, Minnesota U.S. Rep. Dean Phillips, a Democrat, tweeted his opposition to Hart’s intentions to overturn the election, saying it “would be even more painful for America.”