Rita Hart makes a campaign stop at Iowa City Yotopia

Rita Hart, a Democratic candidate for Iowa’s Second Congressional District, made a campaign stop at Yotopia in Iowa City on Sunday.

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Rita Hart makes a campaign stop at Iowa City Yotopia

Rita Hart, Democratic candidate for Iowa's Second Congressional District, speaks to supporters at Yotopia in Iowa City on Sunday.

Rita Hart, Democratic candidate for Iowa's Second Congressional District, speaks to supporters at Yotopia in Iowa City on Sunday.

Katie Goodale

Rita Hart, Democratic candidate for Iowa's Second Congressional District, speaks to supporters at Yotopia in Iowa City on Sunday.

Katie Goodale

Katie Goodale

Rita Hart, Democratic candidate for Iowa's Second Congressional District, speaks to supporters at Yotopia in Iowa City on Sunday.

Julia Shanahan, Politics Editor

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Rita Hart, a Democratic candidate for Iowa’s 2nd Congressional District, made a campaign stop in Iowa City on June 30, where she spoke about her experience as a public-school teacher and growing up on a farm.

“I want [Iowans] to remember that my first and foremost mission is to listen,” Hart said. “I think we know that already we need to be talking about health care, we need to be talking about education — we need to be talking about all kinds of issues, but it comes with listening first.”

Hart’s meet-and-greet at Yotopia was hosted by the frozen yogurt store’s owner, Veronica Tessler, who had previously considered running against Hart as a Democrat in the 2nd Congressional District but pulled out of the race in May.

“We have had some great conversations since then, and she invited me to come here today, and I’m excited,” Hart said. “She’s a pretty influential person, and we’re getting to know each other better.”

Hart said her No. 1 issue is health care and the lack of affordability and accessibility, especially in Iowa’s rural areas. She is most proud of local organizing efforts she’s organized in her Senate district in Clinton, Iowa, she said, such as forming the Clinton County Economic Development Coordinating Council.

Hart previously ran for lieutenant governor with business owner Fred Hubbell on the Democratic gubernatorial ticket in 2018 but lost to Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds. Hart served as the state senator in Clinton County from 2003 to 2017.

Clinton County is known as a swing district, with President Trump winning the district in 2016 despite its two elected state Democratic officials. Iowa’s 2nd Congressional District is composed of 24 counties, including Clinton.

“…I grew up in this divided household where my dad was a Democrat and my mom was a Republican, and we had a caucus at our dinner table every night,” Hart said. “We learned then how to get along with somebody who doesn’t think the same way you do and to actually utilize what they had to say to strengthen your position and to maybe think twice about what you believed to be true.”

Ariel Glasman and George Ellerbach, a couple who have lived in Iowa City for around four years, attended the June 30 morning meet-and-greet and said if many of Iowa’s congressional districts begin to turn red, they would consider moving to a new state.

“I, as a public-school teacher, am also really invested in what local policies look like, and I won’t be a teacher in a district that doesn’t have support for me as a union member,” Glasman said.

Glasman noted the collective-bargaining law that Iowa Statehouse rewrote in 2017, so that government institutions were limited to negotiate base wages with public employees. Glasman said her special interest in this congressional race is someone who will “keep unions strong,” because she said it is now up to the federal districts.

Even though Hart is only running against one other Democrat, Iowa City transportation engineer Newman Abuissa, Glasman and Ellerbach don’t feel as though they have limited options.

“I think [Harts] a strong candidate,” Ellerbach said. “If someone wants to run they should run, but I think [Hart’s] proven herself as the lieutenant-governor nominee, and she’s represented a swing district, and she’s a farmer, teacher — I think she has such great credentials. She’s such a strong fit for the district, so I don’t feel like we don’t have a choice.”

Sen. Zach Wahls, D-Coralville, and former state Sen. Bob Dvorsky, D-Coralville, attended the visit at Yotopia.

A number of political leaders said in the spring they were considering a run for Congress.