This has been the closest race in the country since election day and will probably be the closest House race in 36 years when it is certified today. The final tally has Republicans Mariannette Miller-Meeks holding a 6-vote lead over Democrat Rita Hart. The seat was vacated by retiring Democrat David Loebsack, making this a GOP pickup.
When I wrote about this race last Friday, Miller-Meeks had an 8-vote lead with one county left to complete a recount. The recount was completed Saturday and cut into the lead by two more votes. This is now one of the tightest races in U.S. congressional history:
Clinton County completed its recount of the 2nd Congressional District on Saturday, the last of the 24 counties in the district to do so, narrowing the tightest race in the country and one of the closest federal races in a century.
I wanted to know if this was the tightest House race in a century and according to this Wikipedia listing of close races there was actually a race in Indiana which separated by just four votes back in 1984. Before that you have to go back to 1918 (more than a century) to another race in Iowa which was also separated by just 4 votes. So this race isn’t the closest in the past hundred years but there’s only one race that was closer.
Miller-Meeks issued a statement about her pending win:
“While the race is extraordinarily close, I am proud to have won this contest and look forward to being certified as the winner by the state’s Executive Council on Monday,” Miller-Meeks said in a statement. “It is the honor of a lifetime to be elected to serve the people of eastern and southern Iowa. Iowans are tenacious, optimistic and hard-working, and I will take those same attributes to Washington, D.C., on their behalf. From 24 years of service to our country in the U.S. Army and Army Reserves to my several decades of protecting the health of Iowans as a medical professional, I will bring that same Iowa grit to Congress by working to strengthen our health care system, combat the COVID pandemic and get Iowans safely back to work and school.”
But a statement from Democrat Rita Hart suggested she could file an additional legal challenge to the results:
“Unfortunately, as this process continues, the Miller-Meeks campaign has sought to keep legitimate votes from being counted — pushing to disqualify and limit the number of Iowans whose votes are counted,” Rita Hart for Iowa campaign manager Zach Meunier said in a statement. “We have said from the beginning of this recount process that the most important thing is that Iowans’ voices are heard and their votes are counted fairly. Moreover, under Iowa law, the recount was limited to the universe of ballots initially counted after Election Day. We will closely review what the county and state boards do on Monday with an eye toward making sure all Iowa voices are fully and fairly heard.”
This race should be over but maybe it won’t be. Miller-Meeks had previously complained about the vote counting process in Scott county where machines were used to identify overvotes which were then counted by hand. Miller-Meeks argued last week that this hybrid process was not allowed under Iowa law which stipulates either a machine recount or a hand recount, not a combination of the two. But having narrowly won the race, she has dropped that complaint. Hart could potentially revive that complaint as there are still several thousand undervotes in the county which were not looked at by hand during the recount.
We’ll have to wait a few more hours for the race to be certified today and perhaps then we’ll know whether Hart will continue her legal challenge to the results. But for now it looks like a narrow GOP win and another pickup in Iowa-2.
Update: The Associated Press reports that the 6-vote win has been certified. Miller-Meeks will be heading to the House.
The state Board of Canvass voted 5-0 Monday afternoon to certify Miller-Meeks as the winner over Hart by a count of 196,964 to 196,958.
The board, which includes Gov. Kim Reynolds and four other state elected officials, also certified President Donald Trump as the winner of the state’s six electoral votes. The board is made up of three Republicans and two Democrats…
Hart’s campaign has signaled that it will likely take legal action to challenge the outcome, and must do so within two days of the certification under Iowa law. Such a filing would trigger the formation of a contest court consisting of Iowa Chief Justice Susan Christensen and four district judges who will be appointed…
If the court ruled in favor of Miller-Meeks, Hart could file a final appeal with the Democratic-controlled U.S. House, which has the power to judge its members’ elections and has intervened in the past on rare occasions.
I don’t think the Democrats will get involved, not with the special Senate elections in Georgia still to come. It would be bad PR for the party and it wouldn’t ultimately help them much.
The GOP is now +11 in the House with the Claudia Tenney race still to be decided.