Republicans take victory lap after Iowa Democrat drops challenge
House Republicans are taking a victory lap over former Democratic candidate Rita Hart dropping her challenge to the results of the 2020 race in Iowa’s 2nd Congressional District.
In a National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) memo obtained by The Hill, the House GOP’s campaign arm said they see it as an indicator the party has strong odds of taking back the majority in 2022.
The memo touted that the NRCC sent “57 press releases, generated nearly 100 stories” in addition to conducting a poll that showed that contesting Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks’s (R) victory did not resonate with voters in swing districts. The NRCC also launched ads taking aim at Rep. Cindy Axne (D-Iowa), who represents a red-leaning district, for not coming out against the challenge.
“This is the first of what will be many Republican victories this cycle. Republicans are organized, aggressive and have our sights set on one goal: retaking the majority and making sure every vulnerable Democrat pays the price for supporting Nancy Pelosi’s socialist agenda,” the memo said.
“Throughout this process, Republicans across the ecosystem were united in our efforts. The NRCC spearheaded a public pressure campaign targeting vulnerable Democrats over their efforts to subvert the will of Iowa voters and overturn the certified results in Iowa’s Second Congressional District. We made sure Democrats across the country were held accountable for Pelosi’s blatant attempt to steal an election.”
Hart — who lost her race by six votes — initially launched the challenge arguing that a handful of ballots were not properly counted. She announced she was dropping her challenge to the House Administration Committee on Wednesday, but maintained that her attempt to contest the results was valid.
The announcement came shortly after House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), Miller-Meeks and Rep. Ashley Hinson (R-Iowa) held a press conference in the district railing against the challenge, calling on Hart to halt her efforts to overturn the election.
McCarthy tweeted out a smiling picture with Miller-Meeks in celebration of Hart withdrawing the challenge shortly after the announcement.
— Kevin McCarthy (@GOPLeader) March 31, 2021
In addition to House GOP leadership, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and House Administration Committee ranking member Rodney Davis (R-Ill.) among others repeatedly called on Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) to end the investigation, which could have led to a vote on the House floor overturning the election. Republicans argued the move was hypocritical after criticisms of a sizable number of GOP lawmakers’ decision to challenge the 2020 presidential election results in key swing states earlier this year.
Critics of the Iowa challenge argued it was a power grab by Democrats to move forward with efforts that would have typically been headed by a committee primarily controlled by the majority party. They also took aim at Hart for opting to turn to Congress instead of the courts in her state to contest the outcome.
Republicans also credited their pressure campaign in playing a role in the handful of Democrats that opted to come out against the move.
“Democrats were handed a decisive defeat. Rita Hart dropped her challenge to overturn the certified election results and Nancy Pelosi failed to muster the support of her caucus,” the memo said. “Along the way nine vulnerable Democrats came out on the record to publicly break with Pelosi, who remains the most unpopular politician in America.”
Hart’s decision to end her efforts to contest the election relieved some pressure from Democratic leadership, who faced a challenging decision over whether to allow a floor vote on the matter.
While the challenge has ceased, top Democrats have asserted they believe her calls to investigate whether every ballot was counted were legitimate.
“From the day she announced her candidacy, Rita Hart has shown that she is a tireless advocate for the people of Iowa. I respect her decision and applaud her efforts to ensure that every legal vote was counted in this election. I know her service and commitment to Iowans won’t end here,” Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Sean Patrick Maloney (N.Y.) said in a statement.
“While Republicans have been throwing up roadblocks to the ballot box at every turn, Democrats will always fight to ensure every American can vote and that every legal vote is counted.”
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