Democrat Rita Hart has formally dropped her election challenge in Iowa to GOP Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks, just as Republicans turned up their public relations campaign against the potential election “steal.”
Hart officially lost Iowa’s Second Congressional District race in November to Miller-Meeks by just six votes. However, she had filed a formal election contest with the House of Representatives asking for a recount that included 22 ballots that were left out of the final tally, claiming she would have prevailed.
But amid a growing GOP-led campaign to quash the challenge and to pressure House Democrats to accept the election results, Hart formally announced Wednesday she will no longer try to overturn the election.
“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,” Hart said in a statement Wednesday.
“Since Election Day, and throughout this entire process, my mission has been about ensuring the voices of Iowans who followed the law are not silenced. I am saddened that some Iowans’ votes will not count through no fault of their own. The work of ensuring it does not happen again will continue beyond this campaign.”
Hart’s announcement came the same day that GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy visited Iowa with Miller-Meeks demanding an end to the election contest, claiming the Democratic-led House was trying to steal away the election from Iowa voters.
McCarthy argued that Democrats were only considering the challenge to pad out House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s very slim majority in the House.
“It’s the people’s house, not Pelosi’s House,” McCarthy said.
Hart acknowledged the highly charged political climate in her statement.
“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. “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.”
Hart thanked her supporters and wished Miller-Meeks the best as she represents the district that was home to the tightest congressional race in the nation.
Miller-Meeks, a veteran, former state lawmaker and a physician, was sworn in with the rest of the Congress on Jan. 3, but her tenure in Congress was conditional on the outcome of the ongoing election contest.
In a video released via Tweet, Miller-Meeks said she was “deeply appreciative that we’re ending this now,” and wished “only the best” for Hart and her family.
Miller-Meeks had defended her six-vote win and said the six Democrats on the House Administration Committee reviewing Hart’s contest shouldn’t have the power to overturn Iowa’s result.
“People should be outraged,” Miller-Meeks said earlier Wednesday at an event with McCarthy. “… If six votes aren’t enough to win an election then why are six members on a committee able to overturn an election?”
The House Administration Committee that was formally considering the Hart election challenge announced Wednesday the case was officially over since Hart is no longer contesting the outcome.
“There being no contestant, there is no longer a contest, and the Committee will, accordingly, recommend that the whole House dispose of the contest and adopt a dismissal resolution reported out by the Committee,” said Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif., the chairwoman of the committee.
There is still one other ongoing House election contest from 2020. The Republican who lost to Rep. Lauren Underwood, D-Ill., in Illinois’ 14th Congressional District similarly appealed the loss to the House Administration Committee before going to court.
Republican candidate Jim Oberweis lost to Underwood by more than 5,000 votes. Illinois election officials certified Underwood as the winner.
While Republicans have launched a coordinated campaign against Hart’s election challenge as somehow being nefarious, they’ve raised little concern about Oberweis’s contest.
Pressed about the discrepancy Wednesday, McCarthy said it was time for Oberweis to move on.
“I believe Congresswoman Underwood won that race,” McCarthy told Fox News. “It was counted through the states, and she has been seated, and I don’t support the challenge of that race.”
Fox News’ Robert Sherman contributed to this report.