On Dec. 13, Nancy Pelosi had harsh words for the 126 House Republicans who joined a lawsuit by the state of Texas, which challenged the balloting processes in several key swing states, processes that seemed to run counter to their own laws.
“The 126 Republican Members that signed onto this lawsuit brought dishonor to the House,” Pelosi said in a statement, according to Business Insider. “Instead of upholding their oath to support and defend the Constitution, they chose to subvert the Constitution and undermine public trust in our sacred democratic institutions.”
“The pandemic is raging, with nearly 300,000 having died and tens of millions having lost jobs,” Pelosi’s statement added. “Strong, unified action is needed to crush the virus, and Republicans must once and for all end their election subversion – immediately.”
The Texas lawsuit was dismissed at the Supreme Court level because of issues of standing — i.e., the state couldn’t prove it had suffered injury because the states it was suing had ignored their own election laws because of the pandemic, as the lawsuit stated. Anyhow, Pelosi seems to think the time had already passed to put away childish things and accept the results of the 2020 election, such as they may be. In the House speaker’s view, there’s no space for the federal government to be nullifying results.
So let’s see what she does in the case of Rita Hart.
Hart is an Iowa Democrat who lost a close race in the state’s 2nd Congressional District. Admittedly, her loss was quite a bit closer than in any of the states that were being contested in the Texas lawsuit; the Democrat lost by just six votes in the final tally to Republican Mariannette Miller-Meeks.
Iowa’s 2nd was yet another House district where the Democrats underperformed in 2020. While retiring Democrat Rep. Dave Loebsack had won comfortably for several terms, according to RealClearPolitics, the district itself was one of many in the heartland that saw a shift in support from former President Barack Obama (who won there by double digits in 2012) to Trump (who won by 4.1 points in 2016).
There wasn’t a huge body of polling to go off of in the district, but a Monmouth poll of 355 likely voters just a few weeks before the election showed Hart ahead by 9 points.
It’s late December and I’ve used up all my jokes about 2020 polling, however, so suffice it to say that when the race finally wrapped in late November, the state certified Miller-Meeks as the winner by the six-vote margin, which wasn’t exactly a 9 percent win for Hart.
Once again, I want to express my heartfelt gratitude to the voters of #ia02!
I will never quit fighting for you and your opportunity at the American Dream!
— Dr. Miller-Meeks (@millermeeks) November 30, 2020
For most of us, this was something between a curiosity and another reminder the Democrats’ congressional returns were so terrible I can’t imagine the press fallout having been much worse if it turned out Anthony Weiner had not only secretly been a top adviser to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee but had recycled the pseudonym Carlos Danger on his letterhead.
For Hart, however, the battle wasn’t over. On Tuesday, as Democrats were still busy excoriating Republicans for trying to overturn election results, Hart was trying to get the Democrat-controlled House of Representatives to overturn the election results, citing 22 ballots that were excluded. According to The Associated Press, 15 of those ballots would have gone for Hart, giving her the win.
“Hart’s filing asks the Democratic-led House to nullify the state-certified results, count the excluded ballots and conduct a uniform hand recount in the district’s 24 counties. She expressed confidence she will be the winner after that process,” the AP reported.
In a news release, Hart said her campaign “will file a Notice of Contest with the U.S. House of Representatives outlining why Rita is the winner of this race.”
“Further, the notice explains why the House should count every legally cast ballot to guarantee fulfillment of each voter’s constitutional right. With uncounted ballots remaining, she will ask Congress to fulfill its duty and ensure all voices in Iowa’s Second Congressional District are heard.”
“Although it is admittedly tempting to close the curtain on the 2020 election cycle, prematurely ending this contest would disenfranchise Iowa voters and award the congressional seat to the candidate who received fewer lawful votes,” wrote Hart lawyer Marc Elias in a court filing.
Today, I am officially asking the House to ensure every Iowan’s voice is heard in #IA02.
22 ballots remain uncounted from Election Night & thousands of others that were never examined. We’ve got to count the votes & get this right. pic.twitter.com/hWTsUDHkhy
— Rita Hart (@RitaHartIA) December 22, 2020
Miller-Meeks called it what it was: A blatant attempt to bring Nancy Pelosi into a certified race where there was no evidence of fraud.
“Hart now wants a process run by one Californian, Nancy Pelosi, and decided in Washington’s hyper-partisan, dysfunctional atmosphere and not according to Iowa law,” she said.
In a video response posted to Twitter, Miller-Meeks noted there had already been a recount and “every vote has been counted under Iowa law and recounted under Iowa law.”
This election has been decided by Iowans.
That decision should not be thrown into Washington’s hyper-partisan atmosphere.
— Dr. Miller-Meeks (@millermeeks) December 22, 2020
“Unfortunately, Rita Hart now wants Washington politicians to override the will of Iowa voters and disenfranchise hundreds of thousands of Iowa voters,” Miller-Meeks said.
Hart’s legal strategy should be familiar to everyone who lived through Bush v. Gore back in 2000: If you count the votes a slightly different way, Al Gore turns out to be the winner. And that’s clearly the way they should be counted, and if those aren’t the rules, you shut your diseased mouth.
Bush v. Gore ended up before the Supreme Court, and every blogger with a well-worn copy of “Bowling for Columbine” on DVD would squeal like a stuck hippo that it was the judges appointed by Bush’s daddy that made Dubya president by stopping the endless permutations of the recounts. The thing is, George W. Bush was ahead in the count — he won Florida.
Mariannette Miller-Meeks won in Iowa. The vote has been certified, the election is over. There’s no fraud, no evidence that norms were ignored in order to hand Miller-Meeks a victory — nothing like that. Meanwhile, Democrats have been unequivocal about the fact that state certification should be sacrosanct. Anything less is subversion of democracy.
Nancy Pelosi has been curiously quiet on l’affaire Hart. Earlier in December, Pelosi said Hart was “an excellent candidate,” according to The Associated Press. Assuming that’s true, she’s still a candidate who lost — admittedly by a slim margin, but there you go.
Well, if the speaker is a woman of her word, now is the time to call Hart out. We don’t need to be litigating this, not with a pandemic raging and strong, unified action being needed to crush the virus. Goose, gander, etc.
If Pelosi doesn’t call Hart out for this, it’ll be infuriating. However, if she’s actually willing to entertain the possibility of overturning a free and fair election — even if she doesn’t actually do it — it’ll be yet another sign Pelosi’s words are even more hollow than the average political hack’s.
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