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Rita Hart elected to lead Iowa Democrats

By: - January 28, 2023 2:31 pm

Rita Hart is was elected Jan. 28, 2023 as chair of the Iowa Democratic Party. She shown here during her 2020 congressional campaign outside a school in Bennett, where she once taught. (Photo courtesy of Rita Hart campaign)

Former state senator Rita Hart was elected Saturday as the next chair of the Iowa Democratic Party.

“As a teacher, a farmer, a state senator and lieutenant governor and congressional candidate, I’ve seen time and time again how the policies that our leaders implement affect everyday Iowans. My focus is squarely on helping our party begin winning elections again,” Hart said in the election meeting. “The job of the chair is to make that happen.”

Hart, a former teacher as well as a farmer from Wheatland, is currently chair of the Clinton County Democratic Party. She served in the Iowa Senate from 2013 to 2019 and she was Fred Hubbell’s running mate in the 2018 gubernatorial race against Gov. Kim Reynolds and Lt. Gov. Adam Gregg.

In 2020, she ran unsuccessfully for the U.S. House in Iowa’s 2nd District against now-Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks, losing by six votes. 

Hart ran for party chair against Bob Krause, the president and chairman of the Veterans National Recovery Center, and Brittany Ruland, state Sen. Sarah Trone Garriott’s former campaign manager and business owner.

One of Hart’s first tasks will be leading the party through the Democratic National Committee’s decision to drop Iowa’s first-in-the-nation caucuses from the early nominating calendar.  

Hart has indicated she wants to fight for Iowa’s traditional status. “We’ve got to continue to fight that fight for the first in the nation status and then be very practical about how we move forward,” Hart said last week during a forum for IDP chair candidates.

The party will also have to battle back from significant losses in the 2022 midterms. Republicans now hold all four congressional seats, the governor’s office and all but one statewide office, as well as a supermajority in the Iowa Senate and 64 House seats.

“I’m under no illusions that this will be easy, and I know that it will take time, but I am heartened by the support that I’ve heard from the SCC [State Central Committee] and from folks across our state,” Hart said. “I’m truly amazed by the commitment to our party success.”

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Luke Clausen
Luke Clausen

Luke Clausen is a reporting intern with Iowa Capital Dispatch. He is a student at Drake University studying Multimedia Journalism, Magazine and Brand Media, and International Relations. Additionally, he helps to manage the Ambassador-in-Residence initiative at Drake with Ambassador Terry Branstad and Drake's Global Engagement team.