One of the Republican criticisms of the Green New Deal is it encourages eating more vegetables at the expense of meat in order to reduce pollution, which they argue will harm livestock producers.
Republican ads against Rita Hart, a farmer in Eastern Iowa, have seized on this narrative, but state Sen. Mariannette Miller-Meeks actually is the candidate in 2nd District race who has advocated for eating less meat.
“People don’t have to go out and do a programmed physical aerobics program for 30 minutes or an hour or two hours a day,” Miller-Meeks said at the time. “Just eating less, a plant slant to your diet, and trying to get in 30 minutes of exercise a day.”
The National Republican Congressional Committee, however, recently released an ad saying Hart supported a bill “to please East Coast vegans.”
“She signaled support for an East Coast plan to phase out thousands of cattle farms, hog farms and chicken farms, decimating our ag industry, destroying Iowa jobs, just to please East Coast vegans,” the narrator says in the NRCC ad. “Rita Hart: fewer jobs, higher taxes and veggie burgers.”
Hart, the Democratic candidate in Iowa’s 2nd Congressional District, has refuted GOP claims she supports the “East Coast plan” introduced in the Senate by Cory Booker, saying the Wheatland farm she owns with her husband “is our sole source of income and I would not support any efforts to shut down this farm, or any other family’s farm.
“I know we’re getting close to Election Day,” Hart said over the summer, “but let’s get real.”
— Ben Jacobs (@Bencjacobs) October 25, 2020
The laughable attack is part of a larger GOP strategy to tie all Democrats with the more liberal members of their party, no matter their actual policy positions. When Miller-Meeks won the Republican nomination in June, rather than critique Hart’s past votes in the Iowa Legislature or focus on what she would do in Congress, the Ottumwa physician accused Hart of advocating for socialism and “heartless policies.”
This isn’t the first time an ad in the 2nd District has criticized the Democratic candidate for positions advocated by Republicans.
The NRCC also has released an ad slamming Hart for a vote she took in 2018 as a member of the Iowa Senate to allow the Iowa Farm Bureau to sell health care plans to its members. The bill was widely supported by Republicans, including 1st District candidate Ashley Hinson, and some Democrats, yet the NRCC now says the law allows health care companies “to deny coverage for preexisting conditions.”
When asked about the bill in debates, Miller-Meeks has not said whether she would have supported it (she entered the state Senate in 2019), though she almost certainly would have given its popularity in the Republican caucus.
Other Republican groups have knocked Hart on voting for the 2015 gas tax, which had bipartisan support and which Gov. Terry Branstad signed into law. Some ads have targeted Hart’s support of an excise fee on cattle sales, which the Cattleman Association supported and passed the Legislature unanimously.
By Elizabeth Meyer
Iowa Starting Line is an independently owned progressive news outlet devoted to providing unique, insightful coverage on Iowa news and politics. We need reader support to continue operating — please donate here. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook for more coverage.