An Iowa Democrat who narrowly lost a seat in the House of Representatives has asked Congress to re-examine her race in an investigation that could see her take the place of the sworn Republican in January. And now Republican Congressmen are trying to make hay on the alleged hypocrisy by viewing the review as a democratic effort to reverse the outcome of a certified Congressional election.
Republicans’ attempts to do this are based on a false equivalency.
Democrats widely condemned attempts by former President Donald Trump and his Republican makers to overturn the outcome of his election. Republicans claim that it is actually okay for Democrats to overthrow elections as long as it benefits their party.
But the situations are not the same. Trump clearly lost the fair and equitable presidential election, but tried, on the weakest of grounds, to invalidate millions of votes from numerous states. The Iowa House candidate, on the other hand, is following a long-standing process asking the House to review 22 ballots that she says have not been properly disqualified.
Nonetheless, the Democratic optics, calling an election into question so soon after the failed attempt to install Trump for a second term, provides the basis for GOP attacks.
The race for Iowa’s second congressional district was extremely close
Iowa’s seat in the second district is currently occupied by Republican Mariannette Miller-Meeks. Miller-Meeks prevailed last November with only six of almost 400,000 votes cast against Democratic candidate Rita Hart.
After a recount, Miller-Meeks’ victory was confirmed by the Iowa State Board of Canvassers in late November. Hart’s campaign responded to the certification with a statement stating that the recount “was designed to count ballots that have already been counted, meaning that additional legal ballots may still need to be counted”.
Instead, instead of filing a lawsuit in a state court, Hart challenged the outcome of the Federal Disputed Election Act on the grounds that 22 ballot papers she said were legitimately cast were not counted (and therefore not included in the recount were). House Speaker Nancy Pelosi sat tentatively with Miller-Meeks at the start of the House of Representatives in January, but the House Administrative Committee is considering Hart’s challenge, and Pelosi recently said “there might be a scenario” in which that Entire House of Representatives ultimately votes for Hart’s seat. It is a process that has been played more than 100 times with very rare success.
Republicans wasted no time rushing after the House Administration Committee voted for Hart’s challenge on March 15. House minority leader Kevin McCarthy last week accused the Democrats of trying to “steal a race” by entertaining Hart’s challenge. In Senate comments, Senate Minority Chairman Mitch McConnell alluded to former President Donald Trump’s attempt to overturn his election loss and accused Democrats of hypocrisy.
“The process went like every liberal in America insisted in November, December and January, was out of the question. But there is a catch. This time the Republican won and the Democrat lost, ”said McConnell.
Then, this week, a group of Republican senators, including McConnell, Tom Cotton, and Iowa’s two Republican senators, Joni Ernst and Chuck Grassley, wrote an open letter to companies pledging to stop making donations to Republicans who supported Trump’s efforts to overturn the November presidential election, calling on them “to take the same position with regard to House members who are ready to overthrow a certified election in Iowa’s second congressional district”.
“We ask you to use the same standard in attempting to overthrow an election that you used among the Republicans who protested the electoral votes of certain states and the actions of Democrats trying to overthrow the state-certified election of.” to publicly condemn representatives of Miller-Meeks, ”they wrote. “If you choose not to speak of this brazen attempt to steal the election, some may question the sincerity of your previous statements and conclude that your actions were partial rather than principled.”
McConnell, Grassley, Ernst and Cotton tell companies that raised funds on Jan. 6 to apply “the same standard” to members of the House if they are considering overthrowing IA-02. pic.twitter.com/eOqFHQssJN
– Andrew Solender (@AndrewSolender) March 26, 2021
But there’s a big difference between Hart’s challenge and Trump’s efforts to overthrow the presidential election, which was backed by a majority of Republicans in the House of Representatives and a handful of them in the Senate: the Miller-Meeks race was, in fact, a squeak. Trump’s loss wasn’t.
Kevin McCarthy is trying to turn the tables on critics of his efforts to end democracy
Hart’s challenge rests on the claim that there is a quantifiable set of ballot papers that have not – but should – have been counted and that they could alter the election result.
Trump’s challenge was nowhere near as specific; He pushed conspiracy theories about voting machine fraud, claiming pandemic changes to state electoral procedures were unconstitutional and invalidated the entire election. He and his lawyers were unable to produce evidence of their conspiracy theories, and his legal arguments were dismissed in court after court, including by judges he appointed.
Despite the negligence of Trump’s arguments, the Republicans stood behind it. One hundred and thirty-nine House Republicans and eight Senate Republicans voted Jan. 6 to reverse the results in one or more states won by President Joe Biden. In the absence of evidence of fraud, their rationale for rejecting the results was based on apparently circular considerations of how the mere suspicion of fraud justified discarding the results.
McCarthy was among the Republicans who supported Trump’s efforts. During a press conference on March 17, CNN reporter Manu Raju urged McCarthy to explain the “difference between efforts” [in Iowa] overturning the House of Representatives elections as opposed to Donald Trump’s efforts to overthrow the Congress elections you supported. “
The House minority leader’s response was that he did not really support the repeal of the presidential election because he only voted to remove the results from Arizona and Pennsylvania, and removing those two states from Biden’s column would not have been enough to overturn the results. What he didn’t acknowledge, however, was his support for a Supreme Court denied legal challenge to Biden’s victory in December – which could have had a huge impact on the election.
Kevin McCarthy made painful efforts Thursday to rewrite history by insisting he didn’t really support Trump’s efforts to overthrow the election (he absolutely did) pic.twitter.com/94RSfLWdcr
– Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) March 19, 2021
Republicans countered that Trump had taken up his complaints to the judiciary (of course, he also suggested that he expect Supreme Court judges to help him win regardless of the election totals) and have complained that Hart did not deny the Iowa court election prior to appeal to the House of Representatives. Hart’s lawyers argue there was no time for it, but Miller Meeks supporters argue Hart just wanted her to be challenged by the Democratically controlled house. However, Hart has a legal right to challenge the election in the House, and the House is legally required to hear it.
With that legal basis, House Administration Committee Chair Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) released a statement earlier this week calling on Republicans to end the politicization of Hart’s challenge.
“Republicans know how this process works. Over the past 90 years, Congress has bipartisan over more than a hundred Republican-Democrat election campaigns in races nowhere near Iowa’s runner-up,” she said. “Given this history, it is deeply disappointing that some of my Republican colleagues are now calling this process somehow shameful.”
But even if the House Administrations Committee takes the matter down the floor, some Democrats who await attacks from Republicans seem unwilling to put Hart down.
Hart’s challenge faces an uphill battle
As the Wall Street Journal elaborated on Thursday, Democratic MPs Dean Phillips (MN), Elissa Slotkin (MI) and Josh Gottheimer (NJ) have already raised some concerns about the possibility of removing Miller-Meeks.
“Losing a house election by six votes is painful for Democrats. But knocking it over in the house would be even more painful for America. Just because a majority can doesn’t mean a majority should, ”Phillips tweeted on Monday.
It is painful for Democrats to lose a house election by six votes. But knocking it over in the house would be even more painful for America. Just because a majority can doesn’t mean a majority should. https://t.co/pXaOYBIMue
– Rep Dean Phillips (@RepDeanPhillips) March 22, 2021
With the House of Representatives split between 219 and 211, only four Democratic defects would be enough to thwart any efforts to set Hart, assuming Republicans stuck to it.
While Miller-Meek’s overt victory is unlikely to be undone, Hart’s legal challenge is to provide a club to Republicans elected and Fox News to attack Democrats for allegedly guilty of exactly what they recently accused Republicans of .
Democrats “pushing to overthrow the will of the people” are a highly misleading way of determining events in Iowa. A House candidate asked the House to review 22 ballot papers that could affect the outcome, and some Democrats have already indicated they do not support the effort. pic.twitter.com/Gfy9xXCNn5
– Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) March 26, 2021
However, when the facts are unpacked, it is clear that Republican talk about what is happening in Iowa is misleading. Hart doesn’t claim that an election was stolen because it lost, but that a handful of ballots weren’t counted, which perhaps should have been – and that failure to include them in the total vote means the people of Iowas second district did not have the choice of representative whom they preferred.
But people like McCarthy and McConnell won’t let facts get in the way of their narrative.