# Campaign Finance



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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Whose priorities for Iowa?

Editor’s note: This post has been corrected to note that Priorities for Iowa, Inc., a group that does not disclose its donors, was responsible for the television ad buy.

Nick Covington is an Iowa parent who taught high school social studies for ten years. He is also the co-founder of the Human Restoration Project, an Iowa educational non-profit promoting systems-based thinking and grassroots organizing in education. This essay first appeared on Medium.

On January 9, Priorities for Iowa, Inc., a 501(c)4 organization in Des Moines, announced a six-figure ad buy in support of Governor Kim Reynolds’ school voucher program. The super-PAC Priorities for Iowa Political Fund is registered at the same address.

Priorities for Iowa claims to have the interests of Iowa parents at heart, but a brief look at the super-PAC’s donor disclosures tells us otherwise.

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State board asks Iowa lawmakers to regulate recurring campaign donations

The Iowa Ethics and Campaign Disclosure Board has asked state lawmakers to approve a bill requiring donors to opt in to recurring contributions to Iowa candidates or political committees.

The agency charged with enforcing Iowa’s campaign regulations pre-filed the bill last month, after the six-member board unanimously voted to recommend the policy at its November meeting.

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Republicans seeking recounts in six Iowa House races

This post has been updated with final counts from the races (Democrats prevailed in five). Original post follows.

All 99 Iowa counties have finished counting their votes, clearing the way for recounts to begin. None of the 34 state Senate races were decided by a razor-thin margin this year, but Republican candidates have requested or will ask for recounts in six of the 100 state House races.

Two of those elections are very close, two others were decided by margins under 100 votes, and the last two are not remotely within striking distance for the losing candidate.

If every candidate now leading remains ahead after the recount, the GOP would have a 63-37 majority next year, up from 60-40 currently. In the fourteen years I’ve closely followed Iowa legislative races, I’ve never seen a recount change the winner.

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Backing carbon pipelines cost Senate President Jake Chapman his seat

John Aspray is Food & Water Action Senior Iowa Organizer.

State Senator Sarah Trone Garriott’s victory over Senate President Jake Chapman was a bright spot on a dark day for Iowa Democrats. While Republicans clinched a further majority in the state House and Senate, Trone Garriott pulled off a rare thing for a Democratic candidate — an upset over a sitting Republican in leadership. She previously won a GOP-held open seat in 2020.

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