Democrat Withdraws Challenge of Her 6-Vote Defeat in Iowa House Race

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Rita Hart, a Democratic House candidate, withdrew her challenge to her six-vote loss in Iowa’s 2nd Congressional District on Wednesday, ending a dispute over the seat that the state certified for Republican Representative Mariannette Miller-Meeks.

The decision came as partisan tension had built over GOP claims that Democrats led by Speaker Nancy Pelosi were trying to “steal” a House seat with the party breakdown so closely divided at 219 to 211, with one newly elected Republican not yet sworn in.

In a statement, Hart said she was “saddened” to be dropping her challenge, but pointed out that Republicans were asking Pelosi to stop efforts to investigate her loss, and that those requests have “even made some Democrats uneasy after the furor over the presidential race.”

“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,” she said. “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.”

Miller-Meeks, in a video posted on her Twitter account, said she had received a “very gracious phone call” from Hart on Tuesday afternoon. “I’m deeply appreciative that we are ending this now and I wish only the best for she and her family, because I know how stressful this has been,” she said.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, who appeared with Miller-Meeks in Iowa, on Wednesday, said in a statement that “Rita Hart and Nancy Pelosi finally heard what many Iowans told me today: Mariannette Miller-Meeks is the duly-elected congresswoman serving Iowa’s 2nd Congressional District,”

“Pelosi’s attempted power grab failed,” McCarthy added. “And Iowans and America are better off because of it.”

The Committee on House Administration had been reviewing Hart’s challenge of Miller-Meeks’ six-vote victory.

Committee Chairwoman Zoe Lofgren of California said in a statement that because of Hart’s withdrawal, her panel would “recommend that the whole House dispose of the contest and adopt a dismissal resolution reported out by the Committee,” she said.

Republicans had argued that any such challenge should have been in court, much as Democrats said after then-President Donald Trump insisted that Congress overturn Joe Biden’s White House victory.

Miller-Meeks, at an event with McCarthy in Davenport, Iowa, earlier in the day, underscored that her victory had been certified by the state, that she had been sworn into Congress, and that “people should be outraged” that a congressional committee would be allowed to overturn an election.

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