ELECTION 2020

National Republicans hit Rita Hart over support of Iowa GOP bills

Democrat running for Congress says her votes show she's willing to work across aisle

Democratic congressional candidate Rita Hart speaks during a meet and greet event Sept. 26 in Iowa City. (Andy Abeyta/Th
Democratic congressional candidate Rita Hart speaks during a meet and greet event Sept. 26 in Iowa City. (Andy Abeyta/The Gazette)

DES MOINES — In an effort to assail Iowa Democratic congressional candidate Rita Hart through campaign ads, national Republicans for a second time have thrown Iowa Republicans under the bus.

A TV ad from the National Republican Congressional Committee, the political arm of U.S. House Republicans, criticizes Hart for votes she cast during her time as a Democratic state senator.

The ad, produced by U.S. House Republicans, criticizes Hart for supporting three bills that were proposed by Iowa Republican lawmakers, received broad Republican support and were signed into law by Republican governors.

Hart is facing Republican Mariannette Miller-Meeks, also a former state senator, in Eastern Iowa’s open-seat 2nd District campaign.

Hart responded to the ad by saying it shows her willingness to work with both political parties.

“I am proud of my work across the aisle to create jobs here in Iowa,” Hart said in a statement. “These disingenuous attacks from outside interests represent the worst of Washington. We need more representatives in D.C. working to bring people together to get things done, not fewer.”

The NRCC ad’s transcript includes harsh words that accuse Hart of using “cold-hearted calculation” in casting her votes, and that “she didn’t care” if those votes hurt Iowans.

But in three of four cases, Republicans cast the same vote as Hart.

The first vote highlighted in the ad was a 2018 proposal to allow Wellmark and the Iowa Farm Bureau to create “skinny” health care plans that are not subject to state and federal regulations. This vote also was highlighted by the NRCC in a previous ad.

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Hart voted for the bill, which was proposed by Republicans. Every Republican in the Iowa Senate and House voted in favor of the bill, including Ashley Hinson and Randy Feenstra, two Republican candidates for Congress in Iowa’s 1st and 4th Districts. It was signed into law by GOP Gov. Kim Reynolds.

The second vote highlighted in the ad was a 2015 proposal to raise the state’s portion of gasoline taxes by 10 cents per gallon.

While Hart supported the gas tax increase — which the state transportation department said was needed to close a $215 million budget shortfall — so did 12 Senate Republicans and 30 House Republicans. The gas tax increase was signed into law by GOP Gov. Terry Branstad.

The third vote highlighted in the ad was a Republican-led proposal in 2018 to reduce state income taxes. This was indeed a party-line vote, with Republicans supporting and Democrats opposing.

The final vote highlighted in the ad was for a 2016 renewable fuels tax credit. The NRCC ad takes Hart to task for the vote, even though it passed the Iowa Senate, 46-3, and the Iowa House, 95-1, and was signed into law by Branstad.

When asked why the NRCC continues to criticize Hart for supporting Republican-led legislation, a spokesman stood by the ad’s criticism.

“Rita Hart has continually voted to raise taxes on Iowa families while giving tax breaks to her corporate donors. The only time Rita Hart has ever reached across party lines was for a bipartisan screwing over of Iowa taxpayers,” NRCC spokesman Bob Salera said in an emailed response.

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