Rita Hart drops attempt to overturn Iowa congressional election

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Rita Hart said Wednesday that she is dropping her effort to overturn the results of her election loss in Iowa’s 2nd Congressional District, saying the effort to contest the race had become too “toxic.”

Her decision means Democrats will no longer be able to try to oust Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks, the Republican who won the race by six votes and who has been serving since Jan. 3 — albeit in what Democrats insisted was a provisional status.

Ms. Hart‘s challenge had become a serious distraction for Democrats on Capitol Hill, pitting Speaker Nancy Pelosi against more moderate members of her caucus, who said they couldn’t see overturning the results of an election after complaining so loudly when former President Donald Trump attempted the same thing.

Ms. Hart had braved that criticism for weeks, but in a statement Wednesday acknowledged her campaign to overturn the results was doomed.

“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.

A key moment came last week when Ms. Hart‘s lawyers, in their challenge, admitted they were asking the House to “depart from Iowa law” in counting 22 additional ballots that would have swung the race to her.

Ms. Hart‘s concession came just hours after Rep. Kevin McCarthy, the top Republican in the House, traveled to Davenport, Iowa, to meet with Ms. Miller-Meeks and to denounce Ms. Hart‘s challenge.

“The idea that Democrats want to turn over an election after it’s been counted, recounted and a bipartisan election board had voted — it’s time to move on,” Mr. McCarthy said, standing alongside Ms. Miller-Meeks and Iowa Rep. Ashley Hinson, another Republican.

“We have elections and people need to have trust and faith in confidence in their elections,” Ms. Miller-Meeks said. “This move will undermine confidence in our elections system.”

Ms. Hart‘s challenge had created an embarrassing parallel for Democrat, who had earned ground after the Jan. 6 events at the Capitol, which saw some Republicans attempt to challenge the Electoral College results, and then saw a pro-Trump mob attack the Capitol.

In the wake of that attack, a number of major corporations had said they would no longer provide campaign backing to Republicans who were involved in the challenge.

But Ms. Hart‘s attempt to overturn the Iowa results gave the GOP room to push back.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, Sen. Tom Cotton and Iowa’s two senators fired off letters to those corporations last week demanding they apply the same standard to Democrats involved in the Iowa challenge.

“If you decide to not speak out about this brazen attempt to steal an election, some may question the sincerity of your earlier statements and draw the conclusion that your actions were partisan instead of principled,” the senators wrote.

The corporations, ranging from Amazon to the Walt Disney Company, went silent on that challenge, refusing to respond to multiple requests from The Washington Times.

Ms. Hart‘s decision removes their dilemma.

Rep. Zoe Lofgren, California Democrat and chair of the House Administration Committee that was handling the matter in Congress, said Wednesday that without Ms. Hart there is no longer a case.

“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,” she said in a statement.

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