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Charles City native Hart to run for U.S. Congress

Charles City native Hart to run for U.S. Congress
Charles City native Rita Hart announced Tuesday morning that she is running for the seat in Iowa’s 2nd Congressional District. (Press file photo James Grob.)
By James Grob,

Charles City native Rita Hart announced Tuesday morning that she is running for the seat in Iowa’s 2nd Congressional District.

Hart will be campaigning to fill the seat currently occupied by Dave Loebsack, who announced in April that he would retire at the end of his current two-year term. The 24-county district covers the southeastern quarter of Iowa. Loebsack has represented the district since 2006.

“As a lifelong Iowan, farmer and educator, I understand the struggle our small towns and rural communities face, because I’ve lived it,” Hart said in a press release. “Whether spearheading efforts to train our young people or bringing local leaders on both sides of the aisle together as a state senator, I’ve spent my life fighting to build a solid foundation for the next generation of Iowans.”

Hart, a Democrat, served in the Iowa Senate from 2012 to 2016, representing Clinton and northern Scott counties. In 2018, She was the Democratic nominee for Iowa’s lieutenant governor.

She and her husband, Paul, have raised five children and have been operating his family’s century farm near Wheatland, about 25 miles northeast of Davenport, since 1986. She was also a teacher for more than 20 years in the Calamus-Wheatland and Bennett Community school districts.

Hart grew up with eight brothers and sisters, and five of them still live in the Charles City area with their families, including long-time Floyd County Treasurer Frank Rottinghaus. She attended Immaculate Conception school in Charles City through eighth grade, then graduated from Charles City High School in 1974. She graduated from North Iowa Area Community College and the University of Northern Iowa.

Hart said she grew up in a “divided household”— her mom was a Republican, her dad a Democrat.

“I was born into a family where my mother was a really strong Republican and my dad was a really strong Democrat,” Hart said. “We had a caucus around our dinner table, and we listened to both sides of the argument, and recognized where we could find the things that truly mattered, that we could agree on.”

She said that places like Des Moines and Washington, D.C., need more of that.

“That’s how you do it — you elect people who have that frame of mind, who are willing to listen to the other side, recognize that the other side might have some good ideas, and not be afraid to embrace those ideas, no matter where they come from,” Hart said.

Hart said that finding common ground is something she focused on as a state senator.

“We have two parties here, and we want to have a civil engagement between the two parties,” Hart said. “That’s how you end up with good policy.”

Hart has statewide name recognition due to her campaign last year for Iowa’s lieutenant governor seat. She is the best-known of any of the Democrats said to be considering a run to replace Loebsack, which includes Scott County Supervisor Ken Croken, Iowa Sen. Zach Wahls and Quad Cities attorney Ian Russell.

“We have real challenges to solve: Making sure heath care is affordable for all of us, helping families crippled by the cost of education and job training, and growing our economy so that it’s thriving in every corner of our state — not just for the wealthy and well-connected,” Hart said in the press release. We also must do more to protect Iowans from devastating flooding like the kind that hit southeast Iowa earlier this month.

“Hardworking Iowans need a voice at the table as we fight for our future – that’s why I’m running for Congress.”