Democrat who lost close Iowa race withdraws request for House to throw out results

Democrat Rita Hart has withdrawn her request for the U.S. House of Representatives to toss out her narrow but certified loss to Republican Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks.

What are the details?

Hart lost by only six votes to Miller-Meeks in Iowa's 2nd Congressional District race last November, and the state certified the election results. But the Democrat cried foul, claiming the race was essentially stolen.

The Hill reported:

Hart had presented her challenge to the House Administration Committee, saying that 22 ballots that were not counted should have been part of the tally. The panel's investigation could eventually have led to a vote on the House floor on whether to seat Hart despite an earlier decision by Iowa's election board.

But now, Hart has alleviated Democrats from taking that vote, after the party roundly condemned Republicans who joined former President Donald Trump in questioning the outcome of his loss against President Joe Biden.

House GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) had warned that Democrats were seeking to "steal" the Iowa race from Miller-Meeks, and accused them of "hypocrisy" for challenging the election of a duly-elected Republican congresswoman while denouncing Trump's challenges.

In a statement released Wednesday, Hart wrote, "After many conversations with people I trust about the future of this contest, I have made the decision to withdraw my contest before the House Committee on Administration."

She added that she was "saddened that some Iowans' votes will not count through no fault of their own."

The Democrat also extended her well-wishes to Miller-Meeks before acknowledging, "This has been a difficult process for all of those involved and it's incredibly important that we work together to reform the system so this does not happen again in the future."

Running to represent the people of #IA02 in the U.S. House of Representatives has been one of the greatest honors o…
— Rita Hart (@Rita Hart)1617220842.0

What was the reaction?

In reaction to Hart withdrawing her request, House Administration Committee Ranking Member Rep. Rodney Davis (R-Ill.) told The Hill, "Glad to see Rita Hart do the right thing and withdraw her objection. It had to be a difficult decision."

Davis added, "I am still bewildered that Speaker [Nancy] Pelosi even envisioned a scenario that removed the certified winner in Iowa's Second District, Congresswoman Miller-Meeks."

Ahead of Hart's announcement, McCarthy tweeted, "The votes in #IA02 were counted, recounted, and certified unanimously by the bipartisan Canvassing Board. @RepMMM won. Period. Pelosi's Power Grab would disenfranchise voters in Iowa and remove an army veteran, doctor, and public health expert from Congress."

Afterward, he posted a picture of himself and Miller-Meeks both smiling.
— Kevin McCarthy (@Kevin McCarthy)1617222402.0

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House Democrats, led by Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), have indicated that they are still weighing whether or not to unseat lawfully sworn-in Iowa Republican Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks, overturning the Hawkeye State's certified results.

The leading newspaper in Pelosi's home state is urging Democrats' not to go forward with the plan that would certainly cause the rift between the parties on Capitol Hill to widen and stir discord among voters. Instead, according to the Los Angeles Times, Democrats should "accept defeat graciously."

What's going on?

Miller-Meeks won her election over Democrat Rita Hart in the race for Iowa's 2nd Congressional District seat by a mere six votes.

After multiple recounts and a "bipartisan canvassing of the ballots cast in the race," the Iowa City Press-Citizen reported, Iowa certified Miller-Meeks' victory, but Hart wasn't about to let it slide.

The Democratic politician and her team claimed that the state refused to count 22 legally cast ballots, which, if counted, she alleged, would have netted her enough votes to make her the winner.

Hart chose not to challenge the election result in Iowa state court and instead appealed to the House by filing a Notice of Contest, contending that "the Miller-Meeks campaign has sought to keep legitimate votes from being counted — pushing to disqualify and limit the number of Iowans whose votes are counted," the Press-Citizen said.

Hart has continued to pressure House Democrats to overturn the election and made a new filing asking the chamber to overrule Iowa officials and put her in Miller-Meeks' seat, the New York Times reported Tuesday.

What did the Times say?

In a staff editorial posted Thursday morning, the Times called on House Democrats to "reject" Hart's demands and remember what they thought when Republicans refused to accept President Donald Trump's loss following the November election.

"Democrats displayed proper revulsion when some House Republicans attempted to overturn President Biden's 2020 victories in key states," the paper said. "Overturning the result of an election their party lost would invite inevitable accusations of hypocrisy."

The paper went on to remind Democrats of what they faced in 1985 when they pulled a similar stunt:

In 1985, the Democratic-controlled House declared Democrat Frank McCloskey the rightful occupant of an Indiana congressional seat even though his Republican opponent, Richard D. McIntyre, had been certified the winner. Republican members walked out in protest, accusing Democrats of “abuse of power" and “legislative tyranny."

Similar accusations can be expected if the House votes to replace Miller-Meeks with Hart. Never mind that 139 House Republicans voted to disregard the state-certified results in at least one state won by Biden and toss out those electoral votes, a far worse attack on democracy.

It's true that the Constitution says each house of Congress “shall be the judge of the elections, returns and qualifications of its own members." A federal statute, the Federal Contested Elections Act, sets rules for challenges, including a requirement that the challenger prove that the election results entitle him or her to the disputed seat.

The Times pointed out that some Democrats have recognized the "dangers" of flipping the Iowa seat.

For example, Minnesota Rep. Dean Phillips tweeted Tuesday, "Losing a House election by six votes is painful for Democrats. But overturning it in the House would be even more painful for America. Just because a majority can, does not mean a majority should."

Losing a House election by six votes is painful for Democrats. But overturning it in the House would be even more p…
— Rep. Dean Phillips 🇺🇸 (@Rep. Dean Phillips 🇺🇸)1616421080.0

Lauding Phillips' statement, the Times advised Democrats that, short of an investigation providing "incontestable evidence" that Hart won, they ought to "do what they wanted House Republicans to do about last year's presidential election — accept defeat graciously and prepare for the next election."

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

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