Smart, strong, caring, pragmatic — these words all aptly describe IA-02 candidate Rita Hart.
Her background is uniquely suited to serving IA-02, a district in the southeast portion of the state. A former teacher who spent 20 years in public schools in rural Iowa, Hart also owns and operates a corn and soybean farm. From 2013 through 2019 she served as a state senator in Iowa District 49. Serious health challenges within her own family have given her deep insight into healthcare issues.
IA-02 is an open seat and currently rated by election analysts as falling between “lean Democrat” or “tossup.” Hart is running against Republican Mariannette Miller-Meeks, who is currently serving her first term in the Iowa State Senate. Hart has won numerous endorsements, including from prominent Republicans in her district, as well as former President Barack Obama.
Like the majority of Iowans, Hart believes in protecting and improving the Affordable Care Act. Her opponent, however, holds extreme views — not only favoring the repeal of the ACA, but also supporting a fetal heartbeat law in the state Senate that was ultimately ruled unconstitutional. Hart noted that repeal of the ACA, whether through legislation or Trump administration lawsuits, could strip insurance coverage from 1.3 million Iowans with preexisting conditions such as cancer, diabetes or asthma. At the same time, she wants to improve Iowans’ healthcare by working to bring down the cost of prescription drugs, as well as promoting the creation of lower-priced generic drugs.
She is particularly concerned with the administration of Medicaid in her state. If elected, she has vowed to push for a repeal of the federal waiver that allows private insurance companies to run the program. “The experiment with Medicaid privatization has failed in Iowa,” Hart wrote in a statement. “The system is not working, and we need to start over.”
Fighting government corruption is another focus of her campaign. She supports legislation to overturn Citizens United. She also favors a ban on any lobbying by former members of Congress after leaving office, as well as a prohibition on current members owning individual stock or serving on corporate boards.
Iowa has been the number one producer of corn in the US for the last 26 years. Climate change and government policy have had major impacts on farmers and the rural economy in Iowa. Hart favors directly engaging farmers in the effort to respond to climate change and environmental concerns by finding practical solutions that are economically viable. She also wants to protect Iowa’s status as a biofuels leader by fighting for a strong Renewable Fuel Standard and resisting EPA waivers to Big Oil, which have hurt farmers and ethanol producers in the state.
Not surprisingly, jobs and education are a focus for this former teacher. Hart favors raising the minimum wage, reducing the costs of education and increasing opportunities for job training. She also realizes that safe and affordable childcare as well as quality early childhood education are important concerns of today’s working families. Her aim, if elected, is to appoint a full-time staffer to focus on economic issues within the district.
While holding to strong principles, Hart also believes in trying to work across party lines and listening to opposing viewpoints — not a surprising trait considering she grew up with a Republican mom and a Democratic dad. Her openness to different ways to get things done for the benefit of the people has been consistently noted in the numerous endorsements that keep coming her way. Rita Hart will listen to all of Iowa’s voices, even the ones she has to lean in to hear.
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