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Iowa Certifies GOP Win in US House Race12/01 06:09

   

   IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) -- Iowa officials on Monday certified a Republican 
candidate as the winner by six votes of an open seat in the U.S. House, in what 
is shaping up to be the closest congressional election in decades.

   Republican Mariannette Miller-Meeks finished ahead of Democrat Rita Hart in 
Iowa's 2nd Congressional District after a recount saw her 47-vote lead steadily 
dwindle to single digits.

   The state Board of Canvass voted 5-0 Monday afternoon to certify 
Miller-Meeks as the winner over Hart by a count of 196,964 to 196,958.

   The board, which includes Gov. Kim Reynolds and four other state elected 
officials, also certified President Donald Trump as the winner of the state's 
six electoral votes. The board is made up of three Republicans and two 
Democrats.

   If it withstands expected legal challenges, Miller-Meeks' margin of victory 
would amount to the closest U.S. House race since 1984 and the tightest in Iowa 
since 1916.

   "That race alone reinforces that every vote counts and can make a 
difference," said Secretary of State Paul Pate, Iowa's commissioner of 
elections and a canvass board member.

   Hart's campaign has signaled that it will likely take legal action to 
challenge the outcome, and must do so within two days of the certification 
under Iowa law. Such a filing would trigger the formation of a contest court 
consisting of Iowa Chief Justice Susan Christensen and four district judges who 
will be appointed.

   The tribunal would have the discretion to set rules that are "necessary for 
the protection of the rights of each party and speedy trial of the case." Hart 
could be required to post a bond that would cover the costs if the contest 
isn't successful.

   The panel would be expected to move quickly and rule on which candidate is 
entitled to hold the office by Dec. 8.

   If the court ruled in favor of Miller-Meeks, Hart could file a final appeal 
with the Democratic-controlled U.S. House, which has the power to judge its 
members' elections and has intervened in the past on rare occasions.

   Miller-Meeks declared victory after Saturday's recount in Clinton County, 
the last in the district, cut her lead from eight votes to six.

   "While the race is extraordinarily close, I am proud to have won this 
contest and look forward to being certified as the winner," she said. "It is 
the honor of a lifetime to be elected to serve the people of eastern and 
southern Iowa. Iowans are tenacious, optimistic and hardworking, and I will 
take those same attributes to Washington, D.C., on their behalf."

   Miller-Meeks, a state senator from Ottumwa, is making her fourth run for 
Congress. She lost her three previous runs for the seat in 2008, 2010 and 2014 
to Democrat Dave Loebsack, whose retirement after seven terms created the 
vacancy.

   Hart's campaign manager Zach Meunier said after Monday's certification that 
the recount was designed to count ballots that had already been tallied and 
that "additional legal ballots may have yet to be counted."

   "Over the next few days, we will outline our next steps in this process to 
ensure that all Iowans' voices are heard," he said.

   If Miller-Meeks prevails, her victory would limit the size of the Democratic 
majority in the House, which stands at 222-206 with seven races still 
undecided, according to race calls by The Associated Press.

   If Hart appeals the results to the five-judge panel, the AP will not call 
the race until after the panel issues a ruling.

   The state's certification came after the 24 counties in the district 
approved the results of their recounts, which collectively added 143 votes for 
Hart and 102 votes for Miller-Meeks.

   The most dramatic swing came in the district's most populous, Scott County, 
where Hart netted 26 votes. Scott County Supervisors on Monday certified that 
change, while saying they were troubled that the recount board tallied 131 more 
absentee ballots than an earlier post-election canvass.

   County officials said they were baffled by the source of the discrepancy, 
which could be from the discovery of uncounted ballots, a machine counting 
error or a mistaken double count. County Attorney Mike Walton said the board 
had no choice but to certify the recount board's work.

   "It's not perfect," he said. "There are questions that one side or another 
may want answered through a contest."

 
 
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