Voters with Uncounted Ballots on Rita Hart’s Challenge Withdrawal

Zachary Oren Smith reporting for the Press-Citizen:

After filling out her ballot, Loetz said she was preparing to put it into her secrecy envelope but she’s allergic to the glue in some envelopes, so rather than licking it, used a bit of water to seal it. In the process, she said, the envelope ripped. Rather than starting over, she decided to take it to the Scott County Auditor’s Office to see if it would work. According to Loetz, she asked the elections worker if the envelope would be a problem, but says she was told it would work.

These are stories that got lost in the both-sides reporting of Iowa’s Second Congressional District: 22 people whose votes were not counted for technical reasons.

This wasn’t an attempt to steal an election like Donald Trump, who was demanding ballots from precincts that went heavily Democrat Joe Biden be tossed in bulk. Rita Hart was asking — consistently — to have specific ballots considered in a recount.

Hart was asking that voters, including those who voted for her opponent, not be disenfranchised.

Rita Hart Had to Take One for the Team

John Deeth on the historically close Second Congressional District race after Rita Hart dropped her challenge, pushing to count 22 ballots in a race she lost by six-vote margin:

Hart had the worst possible luck. It wasn’t just that she had the closest congressional race in at least 40 years, and that it turned on minor clerical errors. It was that this happened at the same time as a defeated president lied about massive voter fraud, refused to concede, and gave aid and comfort to criminals who invaded our Capitol and murdered police officers. If it weren’t for that, the 2nd District challenge would still have been bitter and partisan and controversial. But it would have been possible. Instead, we had an environment where immeasurable imaginary fraud and 22 very specific examples of minor mistakes were treated as Both Sides Identical.

It’s always worth reading Deeth on Iowa politics, but I want to call attention to the media piece here, because this is what stuck out to me. “Both sides do it” is, in this case, malpractice.

The Republicans who were pushing this through a “Pelosi is trying to steal a seat” tale where many of the same characters who were silent or vocally supportive of Trump’s Big Lie and deadly riot incitement. And, yet, they got their he-said turn uncritically reported.

The Power of Political Disinformation in Iowa

Peter Slevin for The New Yorker:

Whatever their emerging record, Democrats must also overcome a fearsome wall of mistrust, and a broad willingness among Republicans to believe the worst about them. Nowhere is this clearer than in Iowa, where Republicans rolled to one victory after another last November, powered by support for Trump and disdain for the Democrats. Trump beat Biden there by eight points, a dozen years after the Obama-Biden ticket carried the state by nine. Senator Joni Ernst, once considered vulnerable, was outpolled by Trump, but still collected fifty-two per cent of the vote to defeat her Democratic challenger, Theresa Greenfield. Democrats lost six state House seats and two congressional seats, including one by an excruciating six votes out of nearly three hundred and ninety-four thousand cast. (The Democrat, Rita Hart, is continuing to contest the results.) The other seat belonged to Abby Finkenauer, an energetic first-term Democrat, who was blindsided by her defeat.

Any Iowan paying attention knows how true this feels.

I keep returning to this:

In 2018, Bobby Kaufman, who’s dad is the Iowa GOP chair, defeated Jodi Clemons, who later was an organizer for Bernie Sanders’ 2020 presidential campaign, by 11 points and 1,700 votes.

In 2020, Kaufmann faced Lonny Pulkrabek, Johnson County’s Democratic sheriff for 16 years.

Kaufmann ran a TV ad suggesting Pulkrabek stood by while rioters defaced beloved Kinnick Stadium (meanwhile, Pulkrabek caught heat in his jurisdiction for a Facebook post expressing sadness at the spray painting).

Pulkrabek was relatively well funded and objectively a good fit for the district.

Kaufmann beat the Democrat by 20 points and 3,700 votes.

 

At the Statehouse, Libs Have Driven the Iowa GOP Mad

Todd Dorman writing in The Gazette:

Legislative mad libs. I’ve even filled in some suggestions.

No need to thank me. Here we go.

DES MOINES — Republicans who control the Iowa Legislature are pursuing legislation that would target (university professors, transgender kids, low-income renters, women, public schools, teachers, early voters, older Iowans, disabled people,people receiving state help>, amid a pandemic and the entire city of Des Moines) by (banning, prohibiting, defunding, suppressing, shortening, tracking, hobbling, chilling or chopping) the way those Iowans (vote, teach, work, learn, love, live, vote and think.)

Destroying the Economic Engine to Own the Libs

Iowa loves the Hawkeyes. Their games are played across the state on TV and radio for tailgates, at small-town bars and restaurants and in the cabs of combines.

The trouble is much of our state seems to hate the University of Iowa.1

The University of Iowa, along side its sibling institutions in Ames and Cedar Falls, is a huge economic engine for the state. Each year, these public schools are and being responsible for billions — $11.8 billion in the most recent study — plus employment for 1 in 14 Iowans. In the midst of a pandemic the University of Iowa’s healthcare system has been a backstop for the state.

It’s easy to cheer Luka Garza’s dominance, or aw-shucks another football loss to Northwestern, but that it’s-great-to-be-a-Hawkeye energy doesn’t prevent the plenty of animosity towards the parent institution.

I guess it’s hard to root for a university epidemiologist critical of the state’s COVID response. Or a tenured performance artist who dresses up as a robot to hassle elected officials. Or a law professor who’s so pissed about Republican extremism she gets elected to the state legislature.2

And so, year after year, politicians gather in Des Moines to pass laws, or at least to file messaging bills, just out of spite towards Iowa City and Johnson County, the liberal bastion that benefits the most directly from the institution. Banning a ban on housing discrimination. Forcing a lower minimum wage. Even banning bans on goddamn plastic bags

But direct assaults on the University of Iowa have been mostly limited to big GOP donors having install university presidents in questionable proceedings.

Until this year.

Now the Republican-led legislature advanced a slew of bills meant simply to punish the University of Iowa and its sibling institutions.

That this is all nose-despite-your-face bad policy is obvious — not a single lobbyist has registered in support and plenty have registered opposed. But good policy isn’t the point. The point, in a state that was once so proud of its commitment to public education, is simple: to hollow out the University of Iowa and own the Iowa City libs. 

It’s great to be a Hawkeye. It just sucks to be the University of Iowa. 


1 | John Deeth often writes about the local issue of “Love The Hawkeyes Hate The Students,” which I think is a different, though perhaps related, issue than what I’m writing about here.

2 | The closest the actual Hawkeyes seem to have come is kneeling during the national anthem, which was enough for the Trump-loving, long-time equipment hauler to, um, suddenly part ways with the team.

The Trump Administration’s Vaccine Plan is a Mess

Jennifer Rubin in the Washington Post:

Zients pulled no punches in characterizing the challenge. “Uneven at best” was how he described the administration’s effort, which largely consisted of dropping everything in state officials’ laps. “We’re struck by the incompetence across the board,” he underscored. “Worse than we could have imagined,” he repeated.

“Worse than we could have imagined” is the Trump Administration’s motto.

The Cowardly Ben Sasse

Michael A. Cohen, in his new Truth and Consequences newsletter:

Sasse’s constant flip-flops are nearly as odious as the brazen opportunism of Hawley and Cruz. It’s merely opportunism by a different name, cloaked in the gauzy rhetoric of American ideals. The Nebraska Senator is that most loathsome of political figures: a person who preaches the virtues of democracy and political compromise and then violates those words the moment it’s in his political interest to do so.

There’re a lot of ways to be spineless.