IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) — A Republican candidate saw her vote lead dwindle to single digits Wednesday in Iowa’s 2nd Congressional District as a dramatic recount moved toward a conclusion in a race that will help determine the size of Democrats’ majority in the House of Representatives.
Republican Mariannette Miller-Meeks held a lead of eight votes over Democrat Rita Hart out of more than 394,400 cast, with recount boards in all but one of the district’s 24 counties reporting their results. Miller-Meeks is trying to flip a second congressional seat in Iowa for Republicans this cycle.
Hart cut into Miller-Meeks’ lead, which began Wednesday at 35 votes, but couldn’t quite erase it.
She netted 26 votes in Scott County after the recount board adjourned without addressing a discrepancy in the number of absentee ballots recorded. On Wednesday night, her campaign picked up one more vote in Jasper County after a machine recount of absentee ballots reduced a nine-vote net the campaign had earlier claimed.
Only Clinton County — where Hart lives on a Wheatland farm and served as an educator and state senator — is yet to report.
Clinton’s recount board has already reviewed most of its ballots, with Hart so far netting a single vote, said county auditor Eric Van Lancker. The board will return Saturday morning to finish recounting the last 5,000 to 6,000 absentee ballots, he said.
A state canvassing board is expected to meet Monday, the legal deadline, to certify the results of the race. The trailing candidate is likely to file legal action to contest the recount outcome, which would set in motion a proceeding run by a judicial panel.
If the candidates tie, state law would require that a winner’s name be drawn from a hat, bowl or some other receptacle.
The candidates are vying to replace Democrat Rep. Dave Loebsack, who is retiring after seven terms.
Hart requested a districtwide recount after counties’ initial certifications showed her trailing by 47 votes, following an election in which reporting errors flipped the lead back and forth between the candidates.
The recount has been slow but drama-filled as the race has tightened.
After the swings on Wednesday, Miller-Meeks unofficially has 196,958 votes while Hart has 196,950.
Scott County, the most populous in the district, had been set to certify the 26-vote swing that would help Hart erase most of Miller-Meeks’ lead. But the county board postponed the meeting late Tuesday after the auditor discovered the recount recorded 131 more absentee ba... (Read more)
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