House Probe of Slim GOP Victory in Iowa Strikes Raw Nerves
(Bloomberg) -- Republicans are asking House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to stop efforts by a committee to investigate a state-certified election in Iowa that the Democratic candidate lost by six votes, an effort that has even made some Democrats uneasy after the furor over the presidential race.
The Committee on House Administration is reviewing Democrat Rita Hart’s challenge of a six-vote victory in Iowa’s 2nd Congressional District by Representative Mariannette Miller-Meeks, the state-certified GOP winner of that race. Republicans say it should play out in the courts, much as Democrats said after then-President Donald Trump insisted that Congress overturn Joe Biden’s White House victory.
Hart argues that 22 legally cast ballots out of the roughly 400,000 cast were not considered in her race against Miller-Meeks, both in an initial November canvass, and in a later recount by the state. Hart says she would have won.
Miller-Meeks, who has been sworn-in and seated in Congress, says the committee should immediately dismiss the challenge.
“This is Nancy Pelosi’s plan,” House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy said on Twitter on Tuesday. “Ignore the voters. Bypass the courts. Steal the seat.”
Iowa Representative Ashley Hinson, a Republican, released a letter to Pelosi and signed by 123 House and Senate Republicans accusing the speaker of hypocrisy in supporting the administration committee’s investigation in the Iowa race “while simultaneously claiming voter fraud does not exist nationally.”
Earlier: Republican Will Be Seated as House Investigates Election
Nine of the 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach Trump, including House GOP Conference Chair Liz Cheney of Wyoming, also wrote Pelosi asking her to scrap the committee investigation, saying it would undermine confidence in the electoral process. The letter noted they have also rebuked Trump, because he “repeated refuted the results of a certified election, which led to horrific violence in the Capitol Building on Jan. 6th.”
A Pelosi spokesman referred all questions on Tuesday to the committee. Some Democrats are raising concerns that the panel’s review will only exacerbate partisan tensions that have festered in the wake of Trump and other Republicans unfounded claims there was widespread voter fraud in 2020 across the country.
“Losing a House election by six votes is painful for Democrats. But overturning it in the House would be even more painful for America. Just because a majority can, does not mean a majority should,” Democratic Representative Dean Phillips tweeted on Monday.
Another senior House Democrat, who did not want to be identified, said he is concerned that the timing allows Republicans to make a false comparison of the Democrat’s non-acceptance of a state certified-election to refusals of Trump and congressional Republicans to accept the state-certified results of the presidential elections.
The issue has begun to resonate beyond the Capitol, as a sarcastic tweet by former Vice President Mike Pence indicates. “After losing 13 seats in the 2020 election, House Democrats have a numbers problem and are trying to grab a House seat in Iowa to fix it,” he wrote on Tuesday.
The challenge comes as Democrats hold only a narrow majority in the House, 219 to 211. And another Republican, Julia Letlow, is about to be sworn in after her victory Saturday in a race to replace her newly elected husband, Luke Letlow, who died of Covid-19 last winter.
In new legal briefs filed with the committee Monday, Hart’s lawyers argue this election challenge “is vastly different from the meritless actions in the aftermath of the 2020 general election -- including most notably by former President Donald Trump.” Hart is not seeking “to throw out lawful ballots based on unfounded accusations of massive conspiracies and widespread fraud,” they state.
Peter Whippy, a spokesman for committee Chair Zoe Lofgren of California, said in a statement that the Constitution provides for the House to “be the Judge of the Elections, Returns, and Qualifications of its own Members.”
“Scores of candidates – Democrats and Republicans alike – have made the same choice over our history with races that were nowhere near as close,” he said.
Hart’s lawyers argue in their briefs Monday that her case hinges on the need to count all lawful ballots, “not an unwarranted impulse to discard them.” They add, “the Committee should therefore exercise its discretion to depart from Iowa law,” and adopt counting rules that disenfranchise the smallest possible number of voters.
But lawyers for Miller-Meeks argue that the recount of votes in the race and state certification was done according to Iowa law.
In 122 similar proceedings since 1933, only three have resulted in the House overturning a state result.
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