Rita Hart, a Democrat who ran for Congress in 2020 in southeast Iowa and lost by just six votes, withdrew her demand Wednesday for the House to overturn the election results, ending a bitter conflict that threatened to become a political responsibility for his party. .
The move allowed Republican physician Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks to win one of the closest House contests in American history. It also saved Democratic leaders from having to vote on whether to reject the results of a contested election, just months after former President Donald J. Trump’s false claims about election theft. fueled a partisan clash and a deadly riot on Capitol Hill.
Republicans had signaled they were ready to turn the dispute into a political stick against the majority party, and some vulnerable Democrats who had come under attack on the issue in their districts were deeply uncomfortable with the prospect of intervening.
In a statement Wednesday, Ms Hart reiterated her claim that voters had been “silenced” but acknowledged that the contest had become politically tense.
“Despite our best efforts to ensure that every vote is counted, the reality is that the toxic campaign of political disinformation to attack this constitutional review of the closest contestation in Congress in 100 years has effectively silenced the voices of the Iowans,” Ms. Hart. “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 courtesy.”
Ms Hart’s campaign had identified 22 ballots which they said had been legally cast, but which had not been “wrongly” counted by state election officials in a nationwide recount. of the district in the fall. Rather than take her case to Iowa courts before the election was certified, Ms Hart chose to wait and appeal the results to the House Administration Committee, citing a 1960s law. .
With the Democrats in control of the chamber, they would have led the review and had the power to order their own recount and a vote in the full House on whether to overthrow Ms Miller-Meeks and elect their own candidate. instead, which could have added to their majority of 8 seats.
Democratic leaders had argued they were compelled to take the call seriously, but Republicans rallied, accusing them of hypocrisy and attempting to steal an election that had been verified by state officials. To make the point clear, California Representative Kevin McCarthy, the Republican leader, visited Iowa on Wednesday before Ms Hart announced to denounce what he called a political takeover attempt aimed at to strengthen their margin of control.
“The Iowans made a decision,” said Mr. McCarthy. “And that’s their voice, and they have the right to have Congresswoman Mariannette Miller-Meeks, whom they elected, to continue to serve them.
The dispute has become a particularly sensitive issue for politically vulnerable House Democrats, who have become the target of a coordinated lobbying campaign on the issue. The Republicans’ campaign wing found that the issue was overwhelmingly polled for them in the competitive districts they hope to overthrow in 2022.
The Congressional Republican National Committee specifically targeted Representative Cindy Axne, Democrat of Iowa, airing radio ads in her district accusing her of being complicit in an attempt to overthrow the will of the voters in Iowa .
An affiliated political action committee, the American Action Network, announced last week that it would “spend five digits on phone calls” in Democrat-held mobile districts, urging voters to oppose Ms. Hart.