Iowa Democratic congressional candidate Rita Hart, as expected, has filed an official challenge to her defeat at the hands of Republican Representative-Elect Marianette Miller-Meeks (R-Ottumwa). The Iowa Secretary of State has certified Ms. Miller-Meeks as the race winner by six votes. Ms. Hart is disputing the disqualification of 22 ballots that would flip the election her way. County authorities rejected the ballots for different reasons, and Ms. Hart is asking the House Administration Committee to review and accept them.
It is unclear when the committee will review the ballots, but it is probable that the action will delay Ms. Miller-Meeks seating as an official member on January 4th. Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) is the committee chair. Rep. Rodney Davis (R-IL) is the Ranking Minority Member. Democrats hold a 6-3 majority on the committee.
Democrat Rita Hart, who has lost her congressional race to Republican Mariannette Miller-Meeks by just six votes from more than 393,000 ballots cast, is now taking her case to overturn the result directly to the House of Representatives. She had the option of forcing a state judicial panel to be formed in order to review the entire counting process, but Ms. Hart will bypass the Iowa structure and ask the House Administration Committee to conduct an investigation. Eventually, this could mean a seating battle at the beginning of the next term involving the entire House.
The Iowa State Canvassing Board, as expected, certified the election of Republican state Senator Mariannette Miller-Meeks (R-Ottumwa) as a six-vote winner in her open seat congressional battle against former state Senator and 2018 Lt. Governor nominee Rita Hart (D-Clinton County), which is not surprisingly the closest race in the nation. The final total is 196,964 to 196,958, within a record turnout from a state that saw over 1.7 million voters cast their ballots.
The Hart campaign is indicating they will take the post-certification step of petitioning for a court panel to review ballots that were disqualified. In Iowa, a candidate has two days post certification to file a complaint and then the state Supreme Court Chief Justice and four appointed district judges will be tasked with hearing the complaint and making a decision about the various ballots in question. They must complete their action by December 8th. The state Supreme Court justices choose the four judges who will join the state Supreme Court Chief Justice on the special judicial panel. At the end of the process, the losing candidate could still petition the US House to determine if the eventual victor should be seated.
The IA-2 race between state Sen. Mariannette Miller-Meeks (R-Ottumwa) and former state Senator and 2018 Lt. Governor nominee Rita Hart (D-Clinton County) appears headed to certification today. Ms. Miller-Meeks’ 47 vote lead at the end of official counting shrunk to just six votes from the recount, but she is expected to be certified as the race winner in just a few hours.
We can expect Ms. Hart to continue to file legal challenges, hoping to obtain orders to count votes that have been previously disqualified. With such a small margin, it is conceivable that the House won’t seat Ms. Miller-Meeks even though she will be an officially certified winning candidate. Such action would not be without precedent.
In the end, it is possible that we could even see a new election being called but much will happen before we reach such a conclusion. Should the Miller-Meeks’ certification hold, this would become the GOP’s 212th seat, meaning they would only be six conversion districts away from re-claiming the majority in 2022.
The IA-2 open seat congressional election was certified for Republican Mariannette Miller-Meeks as a 47-vote victory of 393,677 cast ballots. The Secretary of State’s office reports that the districtwide recount – 15 of the 24 counties are now complete – have reduced the Miller-Meeks edge over former state Senator Rita Hart (D) to just 36 votes. Further reports also suggest that Scott County, which has not yet reported, has found an additional net 30 votes in favor of Hart meaning the lead could be as little as six votes.
The congressional recount attempting to decide if state Sen. Mariannette Miller-Meeks’ (R-Ottumwa) 47 vote lead over former state Senator and 2018 Lt. Governor nominee Rita Hart (D) will hold is likely to continue through Saturday. Under Iowa election law, counties have 18 days to conduct a recount. Therefore, the time will expire for some counties on Friday and the remainder at the Saturday’s end.
Approximately 17,000 “undervotes” are present, which are returned ballots without a choice in the congressional race, or where voter intent is not clear. Over 393,000 people are recording as casting a congressional vote, a 6% increase over the 2016 presidential election year total.
The Republicans have now gained a net of 9 seats in the House with five races remaining uncalled. In the five outstanding contests, Republicans lead in four.
One of them, in Iowa, has been certified as a 47-vote win for state Sen. Mariannette Miller-Meeks (R-Ottumwa), but Democratic nominee Rita Hart has requested a recount in all 24 of the 2nd District’s counties, which began yesterday. Republicans, including Rep. Mike Garcia (R-CA), hold tenuous leads in the two remaining California races. Former Rep. Claudia Tenney (R-NY) looks poised to re-claim New York’s 22nd District, and Rep. Tom Malinowski (D-NJ) continues to lead as final counting winds down in his New Jersey re-election race.
Another race will be decided in a Louisiana December 5th runoff election. There, former congressional aide Luke Letlow and state Rep. Lance Harris (R-Alexandria) will advance to a secondary vote. Since both are Republicans, the GOP is assured of holding the open seat regardless of the outcome.
The closest election in the nation comes in the open southern district of Iowa. There, state Sen. Mariannette Miller-Meeks (R-Ottumwa) has defeated former state Senator and 2018 Lt. Governor nominee Rita Hart (D) by a scant 47 votes. Ms. Hart is filing for a recount in each of the district’s 24 counties, a process that will likely begin next week.
Two counties reported previous problems, but both have been resolved and double checked for accuracy. Their adjusted totals are reflected in the published final result. A total of 393,383 individuals voted in the election according to the Iowa Secretary of State’s office, which is undoubtedly an all-time high. In the last presidential election year of 2016, the congressional vote total was 370,032. Incumbent Rep. David Loebsack (D-Iowa City) is retiring after serving seven terms.
Since seven House races were called yesterday, we now see 16 congressional contests called, eight of which are in New York and three in California.
Below is the list of the outstanding races and their current status:
AK-AL: Rep. Don Young (R)
Status: 59.2%; Reporting 69%
R+ 43,761 votes
CA-21: David Valadao (R)
Status: 51.4% ; Reporting 71%
R+ 4,041 votes
CA-25: Rep. Mike Garcia (R)
Status: 50.0%; Reporting 86%
R+ 159 votes
CA-39: Young Kim (R)
Status: 50.6%; Reporting 97%
R+ 4,168 votes
IA-2: Mariannette Miller-Meeks (R)
Status: 50.0%; Reporting 100%
R+ 40 votes
IL-14: Rep. Lauren Underwood (D)
Status: 50.4%; Reporting 100%
D+ 3,524 votes
LA-5: Luke Letlow (R)
Status: 33.1%; Reporting 100%
Runoff - Dec 5
NY-1: Rep. Lee Zeldin (R)
Status: 61.3%; Reporting 100%
R+ 65,120 votes
NY-2: Andrew Garbarino (R)
Status: 57.8%; Reporting 100%
R+ 44,898 votes
NY-3: George Santos (R)
Status: 50.5%; Reporting 100%
R+ 4,171 votes
NY-11: Nicole Malliotakis (R)
Status: 57.9%; Reporting 95%
R+ 37,158 votes
NY-18: Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney (D)
Status: 51.0%; Reporting 100%
D+ 7,896 votes
NY-19: Rep. Antonio Delgado (D)
Status: 50.4%; Reporting 100%
D+ 7,893 votes
NY-22: Claudia Tenney (R)
Status: 54.5%; Reporting 100%
R+ 28,394 votes
NY-24: Rep. John Katko (R)
Status: 58.5%; Reporting 100%
R+ 55,102 votes
UT-4: Burgess Owens (R)
Status: 47.6%; Reporting 95%
R+ 1,780 votes
13 of 16 R Leads
At this point, only three states saw incumbent Senators being defeated: Doug Jones (D-AL), Martha McSally (R-AZ), and Cory Gardner (R-CO). Under Georgia law, since both of their Senate races, the regular cycle campaign and the special election, failed to produce a majority winner, a runoff election will be held for each position on January 5th.
In races of note, Maine Sen. Susan Collins (R) defied pollsters projecting a Democratic victory for state House Speaker Sara Gideon (D) and won by nine percentage points. Despite over $100 million being spent against both Sens. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC), both were re-elected with victory percentages exceeding 58 and 54%, respectively. Democratic Sen. Gary Peters (MI) scored a close win over GOP challenger John James; Sens. Joni Ernst (R-IA) and Steve Daines (R-MT) recorded strong victories despite polling suggesting that both could lose.
In the four open seat campaigns, the incumbent party won each. The new Senators are Roger Marshall (R-KS), Ben Ray Lujan (D-NM), Bill Hagerty (R-TN), and Cynthia Lummis (R-WY).
Two races, in addition to both Georgia Senate seats going to runoffs, remain uncalled but with a clear trend. With only 50% of the votes counted in Alaska, Sen. Dan Sullivan (R) has a strong 62-32% lead. In North Carolina, with the post-election ballot reception period closing on November 12th, Sen. Thom Tillis (R) looks to have a small lead that won’t be surpassed, again despite polling projecting a Democratic victory for party nominee Cal Cunningham.
Assuming the uncalled races remain Republican, the GOP will have a 50-48 advantage heading into the Georgia runoffs, meaning they will retain the majority with a win in at least one of the two Senate races to be decided January 5th.
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