Whiplash! GOP Candidate Declares Victory in Tight Iowa House Race
After what can only be described as a wild ride for Iowa state Sen. Mariannette Miller-Meeks (R-Ottumwa) and her opponent, former state Sen. Rita Hart (D-Wheatland), Miller-Meeks has declared victory – for the second time. The two have been vying for the open House seat in Iowa’s 2nd congressional district. The results from all counties have been certified.
This seat will be vacated in January by seven-term Democratic Rep. Dave Loebsack, who is retiring.
These women have been on a rollercoaster since Election Day. Due to counting errors in two precincts, the lead in this race has changed hands three times.
According to the Iowa City Press-Citizen:
Miller-Meeks took to the stage at her election night event, even as counting was incomplete, after midnight Wednesday morning to claim victory.
“We know this has been a long night, and we knew this was going to be a very tight race, and we wouldn’t know results until later, but with 282 votes from the Secretary of State’s Office ahead of our opponent, you are now looking at the new congresswoman from the 2nd Congressional District of Iowa,” Miller-Meeks said.
Roughly 400,000 votes had been cast in the race and Miller-Meeks held a 0.07 percent lead.
Three days later, a counting error was discovered at a precinct in Jasper County. The Press-Citizen reported:
But Friday morning, the results updated after the Jasper County Auditor’s Office reported a single precinct had overcounted: The Clear Creek-Poweshiek precinct had reported nearly double the actual 400 ballots cast there for Miller-Meeks.
“Thursday, I started looking at the report and thought, ‘Oh boy,’” Deputy Auditor Tina Mulgrew said Monday.
After his office caught the error Thursday afternoon, Parrott’s staff reported the overcount to the Iowa Secretary of State’s office and went to the Jasper County Board of Supervisors to secure permission to perform an administrative recount. That administrative recount, a machine tally of all the county’s ballots, was completed Saturday.
On Monday morning, Hart was on top by 163 votes.
Seven recounts of the vote from the Jasper County precinct took place that day. The Press-Citizen reported that “representatives of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and their counterparts at the National Republican Congressional Committee peered through a metal doorway, awaiting the final audit report of the precinct.”
By 6:30 that night, Hart still held the lead, but it had decreased to 152 votes.
All good, right?
Later on Monday night. a precinct in Lucas County discovered that 271 ballots had not been recorded. Miller-Meeks received 217 new votes and Hart, 54. The lead changed hands once again. Miller-Meeks, with a 47-vote lead, was back on top.
By Thursday, the election results from all of Iowa’s 24 counties had been certified. And, for the second time, Miller-Meeks declared victory.
She issued a statement which said:
I express my heartfelt gratitude to the voters of Iowa’s 2nd Congressional District and acknowledge my opponent (Democrat) Rita Hart’s grace and positive demeanor during this challenging campaign. The election is over and it is time to move forward together and focus on the priorities that will best serve Iowans.
The Hart campaign has requested a recount.
According to RealClearPolitics, the Democrats currently control 220 seats (a loss of seven seats) and the Republicans hold 208 (a gain of eight seats).
Miller-Meeks seat, assuming there are no additional surprises, brings it to 209.
Additionally, on Thursday, Democratic Rep. Max Rose from NY-11 conceded to his Republican opponent, Nicole Malliotakis. This is another pick-up for the GOP, and boosts the Party’s total to 210.
There are five more House races to be decided and here’s how they stand at 6:30 pm on Thursday.
Three races look like Republican wins. In another, CA-25, the Republican holds a small lead of 159 votes. And the Democrat looks likely to prevail in NJ-7.
DEM: T J Cox, 74,948
GOP: David Valadao, 77,304
DEM: Christy Smith, 165,019
GOP: Mike Garcia, 165,178
DEM: Gil Cisneros, 164,813
GOP: Young Kim, 168,858
DEM: Tom Malinowski, 201,664
GOP: Thomas Kean Jr., 195,400
DEM: Thomas Suozzi, 133,765
GOP: George Santos, 137,936