ICYMI: Rita Hart's appeal to Congress doesn't have a happy ending, especially after she passed over Iowa judges. She should concede.
Des Moines Register Editorial Board | December 12 , 2020
In Iowa's 2nd Congressional District, Rita Hart, the loser by six votes to Mariannette Miller-Meeks, has picked a path that will inflame. Her team skipped the appeal process available through Iowa's courts and elected to petition a U.S. House of Representatives panel to oversee a recount, before the full House decides the outcome.
It's true that this is a legal path and that there are legitimate reasons to question the fairness of aspects of Iowa's recount process. But even if Hart prevails, a decision that's ultimately made by a Democratic-controlled House will forever taint her service in Congress.
But going through that process would have demonstrated a commitment to having neutral Iowa arbiters resolve vote-counting problems instead of out-of-state partisans. And the option to go to the House would still have been available.
In the best-case scenario for Hart, the nonpartisan Government Accountability Office conducts a recount with integrity, the lead flips to her, and Democrats in the majority in the House Committee on Administration and in the full House vote to seat her sometime in 2021.
That last part, where Democrats in power decide a Democrat won the election, is what will be remembered.
At every step in Iowa's process, bipartisan groups of Iowans gather in public to make decisions intended to honor a voter's intent.
Hart could have granted a powerful endorsement to Iowa's election system by conceding. She should reconsider and do that now, for the sake of her party and all Iowans. Iowa doesn't need more partisan bile infecting its politics, especially at a time when state government and its congressional delegation should be focused on helping Iowans stay safe in the COVID-19 pandemic and weather its financial hardships.
Meanwhile, all Iowans should welcome Miller-Meeks as a new member of Iowa's congressional delegation. Miller-Meeks served in the U.S. Army for 24 years, where she gained her training as an ophthalmologist. She worked in private practice in Ottumwa, served as a director of the Iowa Department of Public Health and was elected as a state senator in 2018.
Read the full editorial online by clicking here.