There must have been a better way

Everyone knew Iowa’s State Canvassing Board wouldn’t have the final word on the 2020 election in the second Congressional district when it certified a six-vote win for Republican Mariannette Miller-Meeks on November 30. Most politics watchers expected Democratic candidate Rita Hart to file for an election contest.

Instead, the Hart campaign announced on December 2 that it will bypass Iowa’s process and appeal directly to the Democratic-controlled U.S. House.

This won’t end well.

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Get ready for an election contest in IA-02

All 24 counties in Iowa’s second Congressional district have recounted their votes, but the race between Democrat Rita Hart and Republican Mariannette Miller-Meeks is far from over.

Trackers including Pat Rynard of Iowa Starting Line and Tom Barton of the Quad-City Times reached the same conclusion: once all counties submit their new numbers to the Iowa Secretary of State’s office, Miller-Meeks will have a six-vote lead out of more than 394,000 ballots cast. Rynard posted vote changes in each county since election day here. The two candidates’ vote share is identical to the one-hundredth of a percent (49.91 percent).

The Miller-Meeks campaign’s lawyer Alan Ostergren declared victory after Clinton County’s recount board finished its work on November 28. The Republican candidate said in a written statement, “While this 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.”

Three Republicans (Governor Kim Reynolds, Secretary of State Paul Pate, and Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig) and two Democrats (State Treasurer Michael Fitzgerald and State Auditor Rob Sand) serve on the Executive Council. Assuming that body certifies the result, an election contest is extremely likely.

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Mediocrity won't motivate

Chad Cooper is a Cedar Rapids resident, writer, and lifelong progressive. -promoted by Laura Belin

The Iowa Democratic Party has had a rough year. First, the bungling of last February’s caucuses, and now a dismal showing in races across the state on November 3.

The elevation and financial backing of moderate, middle-of-the-road candidates clearly isn’t a winning strategy. It’s not effectively motivating progressives or swinging undecided and independent voters in this state. While U.S. Representative Abby Finkenauer’s loss in the first Congressional district is befuddling given her record of diligent work for Iowans, and Rita Hart’s fate is dangling by narrow margins in the second Congressional district, the campaigns of Hart, U.S. Senate candidate Theresa Greenfield, and J.D. Scholten in the fourth district were lackluster affairs from the beginning.

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The art of showing up: J.D. Scholten in Iowa's fourth district

Susan Nelson: If J.D. Scholten goes to Washington, he will carry with him thousands of stories told by rural people struggling to keep their heads above water. -promoted by Laura Belin

The conventional wisdom about the congressional race in Iowa’s fourth district is that Republican Randy Feenstra is going to win, not because he’s Randy Feenstra, but because he’s a Republican. That conventional wisdom about IA-04 was nearly proved wrong in 2018, when Democrat J.D. Scholten lost to Representative Steve King by a little more than three percentage points. The near-miss helped the Republican congressional leadership decide to defenestrate King from congressional committees because he was a little too obvious about being a white supremacist. Four conservative candidates went after him in the primary, and Feenstra won.

Is IA-04 still a rural red district where Democratic ambitions go to die, or is Scholten going to finish the job he started two years ago? Without King on the ballot, will he still attract 25,000 Republican crossover votes? We will not know the answer until at least election night, or later. But Scholten has a lot going for him.

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Iowa Democrats split on latest COVID-19 relief bill

The U.S. House on October 1 approved a new version of a coronavirus relief package. The 214 to 207 vote split mostly along party lines, but Representative Cindy Axne (IA-03) was among eighteen Democrats to oppose the bill, along with all Republicans (roll call).

When the previous version of the so-called Heroes Act came before the House in May, Representative Abby Finkenauer (IA-01) joined Axne in voting no, while Representative Dave Loebsack (IA-02) supported the bill, as did most House Democrats. Today Finkenauer and Loebsack both voted with the majority of their caucus.

Statements from all three Iowa Democrats in Congress are after the jump. Republican Representative Steve King (IA-04) voted against the bill but didn’t post about it on his social media. His office has not put out a news release since a few days before King lost the June primary to State Senator Randy Feenstra.

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Chamber of Commerce backing Finkenauer in IA-01, Axne in IA-03

In the clearest sign yet that the business establishment is preparing for a Democratic administration in Washington, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce will endorse 23 first-term House Democrats, including U.S. Representatives Abby Finkenauer (IA-01) and Cindy Axne (IA-03).

Alex Gangitano was first to report the planned endorsements for The Hill on September 1. Other political reporters soon confirmed the news.

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