Democrat Rita Hart ends contest for IA-02 seat

Democrat Rita Hart ended her contest challenging the results of the Iowa 2nd Congressional District election after months of partisan legal battles.


Daniel McGregor-Huyer

Democratic candidate for Congress Rita Hart arriving at Johnson County Supervisor Rod Sullivan’s house for her backyard campaign tour in Iowa City on September 26, 2020. (Daniel McGregor-Huyer/The Daily Iowan)

Lauren White, Politics Reporter

After four months of legal challenges against the Iowa 2nd Congressional District election results, Democrat Rita Hart has brought her contest to an end. 

Hart released a statement Wednesday afternoon that said she has withdrawn because of what she called disinformation surrounding her campaign’s challenge to the six-vote margin. 

“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,” Hart said in a statement. 

The election resulted in a six-vote difference between the Republican and Democrat candidates and Hart’s campaign announced it would contest the results in December 2020 after the state recounted and certified results. 

Hart said that running for Congress was one of the greatest honors of her life and wished Marianntte Miller-Meeks, the current seat holder, the best in the position. She also thanked people who invested in the campaign, through time and money and said that she hopes the election system can be reformed to ensure challenges like this one do not happen again. 

Republican Party of Iowa Chairman Jeff Kaufmann released a statement echoing past criticisms of the constitutionally legal process. Republican officials told Congress last week that Hart should have contested the results through the courts, and not directly appealed to the Democrat-held chamber. 

“The withdraw of Hart’s contest should signal to every Iowan that the fight to take back the House and Senate in 2022 has begun. Democrats shamelessly went along with this effort to usurp Iowa elections, and tried to drag it across the finish line for one thing – power. It’s time we show them they no longer deserve it,” Kaufmann said in the statement. 

Hart ended her 2020 campaign saying the election doesn’t change her appreciation for the state of Iowa. Hart previously served as a state senator from Clinton County and ran on an unsuccessful ticket in 2018 with Fred Hubbell as his lieutenant governor. 

“I am a life-long Iowan and I will always work for a more prosperous future for our children and grandchildren,” Hart said. “That won’t change regardless of this, or any, election. We have so much more to work for.”