# 2022 Elections



Rita Hart has her work cut out for her

Seventh in a series interpreting the results of Iowa’s 2022 state and federal elections.

The Iowa Democratic Party’s State Central Committee elected Rita Hart as the next party chair on January 28 by 34 votes to fourteen for Brittany Ruland and one for Bob Krause.

Hart promised to focus “squarely on helping our party begin winning elections again,” and had submitted a detailed plan (enclosed in full below) to make that happen. She touted her experience as a former state senator who had won two races in a district Donald Trump carried, raised $5 million as a 2020 Congressional candidate, and outperformed Joe Biden by more than Iowa’s other three Democrats running for U.S. House that year.

When outlining her vision for Iowa Democrats, Hart acknowledged, “We cannot fix everything in one two-year cycle. We need to be realistic about what can be achieved in two-year and four-year time frames.”

She and the rest of the state party’s new leadership team—first vice chair Gregory Christensen, secretary Paula Martinez, and treasurer Samantha Groark—take over as the Iowa Democratic Party is at its lowest ebb in decades. The party has no representation in either chamber of Congress for the first time since 1956, no representation in the U.S. House for the first time since 1996, only one statewide elected official for the first time since 1982, and its smallest contingents in the Iowa House and Senate since the 1960s.

A quick review of the most pressing problems:

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Four takeaways from Iowa's 2022 early voting numbers

Sixth in a series interpreting the results of Iowa’s 2022 state and federal elections.

The Iowa Secretary of State’s office recently published the statewide statistical report on the 2022 general election. Republicans enacted many new barriers to early voting in 2021, which meant that compared to previous elections, Iowans had fewer days to request absentee ballots, fewer days to vote early by any means, and less time to return absentee ballots to county auditors. It was also much harder for Iowans to deliver another person’s completed absentee ballot, and each county could have only one drop box.

As expected, fewer Iowans voted early. The decline wasn’t spread evenly across the electorate.

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Best of Bleeding Heartland's original reporting in 2022

As the new year begins, I want to highlight some of the investigative reporting, in-depth analysis, and accountability journalism published first or exclusively here.

Some newspapers and websites put their best original reporting behind a paywall for subscribers, or limit access to a few free articles a month. I’m committed to keeping all Bleeding Heartland content—which includes some 570 articles and commentaries from 2022 alone—available to all, regardless of ability to pay.

As always, I’m grateful for readers who value this kind of work on Iowa politics. Tips on stories that may be worth pursuing are always welcome.

To receive links to Bleeding Heartland articles and commentaries directly via email, subscribe to the free Evening Heartland newsletter. Subscribers to my Substack (which is also free) receive audio files and recaps for every episode of KHOI Radio’s “Capitol Week,” a 30-minute program on which Dennis Hart and I discuss recent Iowa political news.

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The 22 most-viewed Bleeding Heartland posts of 2022

Governor Kim Reynolds, the state legislature, and Iowa Supreme Court rulings inspired the majority of Bleeding Heartland’s most-read posts from this year.

This list draws from Google Analytics data about total views for 570 posts published from January 1 through December 29. I wrote 212 of those articles and commentaries; other authors wrote 358. I left out the site’s front page and the “about” page, where many people landed following online searches.

In general, Bleeding Heartland’s traffic was higher this year than in 2021, though not quite as high as during the pandemic-fueled surge of 2020. So about three dozen posts that would have ranked among last year’s most-viewed didn’t make the cut for this post. Some honorable mentions from that group:

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Miller-Meeks used proxy voting five times after railing against policy

“[I]t is time for the House to end the mask mandate for fully vaccinated members and bring an end [to] proxy voting,” U.S. Representative Mariannette Miller-Meeks tweeted in May 2021.

“Now that we are lifting the requirement for fully vaccinated individuals to wear masks, we should bring an end to proxy voting and return in-person work!” the Republican representing Iowa’s second district tweeted in June 2021.

“It’s time for the House to follow the science, lift the mask mandate in chamber, end proxy voting, and return to normal,” Miller-Meeks tweeted in February 2022.

Yet over the past two years Miller-Meeks signed five letters designating Republican colleagues to cast votes on her behalf. Most recently, she used a proxy for the final House floor votes of the year, recorded late last week.

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A campaign manager's takeaways from Sarah Trone Garriott's victory

Brittany Ruland is a community advocate, politically passionate individual who has been consulting and managing campaigns in all capacities around the country since 2015. She is a mother, grassroots organizer, and Iowan who most recently has worked for Senator Sarah Trone Garriott as well as Senator Bernie Sanders and President Joe Biden’s campaigns in 2020.

2022 was a rough year to be a Democrat in Iowa. Watching the results roll in felt like a collective gut punch. Next came the stinging realization that even with mostly-good results for Democrats nationally, we again lost ground in the middle of the country, even in places many of us were confident were winnable. It felt like salt on the wound.

A silver lining emerged as returns continued to come in, with Democratic State Senator Sarah Trone Garriott taking down one of the most dangerous Iowa Republican legislators, Senate President Jake Chapman. At that moment, I realized that even though we lost seats in the state legislature, this race could be a turning point for our party.

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