Miller-Meeks, Hart end Tuesday in near-tie in 2nd District

American flag flying with U.S. Capitol in the background.
A flag flies near the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., in file photo from Dec. 18. 2019. (Photo by Samuel Corum/Getty Images)

The candidates in the 2nd Congressional District race each ended Tuesday evening with 50% of the vote.

Iowa state Sen. Mariannette Miller-Meeks is running for Congress in District 2. (Photo courtesy of Iowa Senate)

Republican Mariannette Miller-Meeks claimed victory shortly after 12:30 a.m., though spokesman Eric Woolson conceded more votes could turn up in the next few days. Independent sources had not called the race. The Hart campaign called the election too close to call.

With all precincts reporting, preliminary results showed Miller-Meeks with 196,769 votes, and Hart with 196,487.

“We knew this would be a very tight race,” Miller-Meeks told supporters. “With a difference of 282 votes from the secretary of state’s office ahead of our opponent, you are looking at the new congresswoman from the 2nd Congressional District.”

Miller-Meeks led Democrat Rita Hart by fewer than 300 votes. On Wednesday morning, Miller-Meeks’ campaign released this statement: “The official canvass will not take place until Monday and Tuesday when the 24 county election boards meet across the congressional district. Our campaign has received and tallied votes from every county auditor, double checked those totals and compared them with the Iowa Secretary of State’s Office. We are confident Dr. Miller-Meeks’ winning margin will stand. Questions about a recount are premature until county officials conduct their official canvasses next week.”

Early Wednesday, Hart campaign manager Zach Meunier said the race isn’t over.

“Ballots are outstanding and over the coming days we will ensure that Iowans’ voices are heard and that remaining votes are counted,” Meunier said in a statement. “Iowa election law is incredibly clear that absentee ballots postmarked by the day before the election and received by a county auditor by Nov. 9, 2020 must be counted.”

Former Iowa Sen. Rita Hart is running for Congress in the 2nd District. (Photo courtesy of Hart campaign)

Former teacher and 2018 lieutenant governor candidate Hart and ophthalmologist and state Sen. Miller-Meeks had debated how best to provide health care, respond to the pandemic and support Iowa’s hallmark agricultural industry. 

On some points, they largely agreed. For example, Miller-Meeks, an Army veteran running for the southeastern Iowa seat a fourth time, supported President Donald Trump’s rollback of environmental regulations. Hart argued the regulations are needed to protect Iowans’ health and to address climate change.

Hart more than doubled Miller-Meeks’ fundraising total as of late October.

For Miller-Meeks, it was her fourth run for the seat.

Perry Beeman
Senior reporter Perry Beeman has nearly 40 years of experience in Iowa journalism and has won national awards for environmental and business writing. He has written for The Des Moines Register and the Business Record, where he also served as managing editor. He also is former editorial director of Grinnell College. He co-authored the recently published book, "The $80 Billion Gamble," which details the lottery-rigging case of Eddie Tipton.