The issue even surfaced Monday on a phone call between representatives of the Democratic Congress campaigning committee and the party’s most vulnerable members – a discussion that at times became tense as lawmakers voiced concerns about the committee’s upcoming decision.
“As I said in connection with the 2020 presidential election, lawmakers should heed the certificates of the states of their elections,” said Susan Wild (D-Pa.), A Democrat from the Swing district, who spoke up of the DCCC said, “I do not believe that it is the role of Members of the House to dictate the outcome of the election unless there is widespread error and substantial evidence to do so.”
Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-N.J.), Co-chair of the non-partisan Problem Solvers Caucus, added to POLITICO in a statement: “I have deep reservations.”
Senior Democrats say these concerns are exaggerated, arguing that unlike Trump and his allies, Hart is going through a constitutional process. They say the House Administration Committee will carefully consider Hart’s challenge – which centers on 22 ballots that it said were wrongly rejected and, if counted, would make you the winner – and that it carries the burden of proof wearing.
Still, around half a dozen Democrats have privately voiced reservations about the House taking on Hart’s challenge – enough to get every voice down on the ground, according to several sources familiar with the talks. Some vulnerable Democrats plan to conduct an informal whip count among their own members this week to see how many colleagues might refuse to remove Miller-Meeks if the issue is raised.
“Losing a house election by six votes is painful for Democrats. A House overthrow would be even more painful for America, ”said Rep. Dean Phillips (D-Minn.), Who on Monday became the first swing district Democrat to firmly oppose efforts to reverse the results on twitter.
This Iowa race is now open for review by the House Administration Committee, an unusual – but not unprecedented – process that could lead to on-site investigations and a possible recount. Hart, who is represented by Marc Elias, the leading democratic electoral lawyer, filed a new brief on Monday. However, there is no set schedule or process for it, and the committee has a lot of latitude as to how it goes forward.
Some Democrats hope the committee – chaired by Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif., An ally of Pelosi – will pale the investigation if enough of them hesitate to oust another member. In previous controversial election cases, the Administrative Committee has set up a small task force that can seize ballot papers, do a recount, and then make a recommendation as to who is the legitimate winner of the race.
The House could then vote on who to put – a result the Democrats hope to avoid on the swing seat.
“This is an issue where states should have primary responsibility for determining the outcome of the elections. The state of Iowa certified it, and it should stay that way, ”said Rep. Lou Correa (D-Calif.) In an interview.
All of this is taking place at the most closely-divided congress in decades. Democrats are holding onto a five-seat majority after losing over a dozen seats in 2020.
In the meantime, the campaign arm of the House’s GOP is on its heels, trying to make the Hart situation as politically painful as possible for Democrats. The National Republican Congressional Committee has launched a public print campaign with almost daily email explosions to reach 15 of the most vulnerable Democrats where they stand on the matter.
The House GOP leaders have accused Pelosi of trying to “steal” a seat in the House to fill their gossamer majority. Over the past few weeks, they have also tried to raise Miller-Meeks, a doctor and veteran, within the Republican conference: she was on a trip to the U.S. and United States border last week with Kevin McCarthy, the minority chairman of the House of Representatives Traveled Mexico and just been named to a select subcommittee on coronavirus.
And in hopes of adding more credibility to the discussion, nine of the ten Republicans who voted against Trump wrote a letter to Pelosi on Monday warning that a government-certified victory would undermine voter confidence in democracy .
“You cannot complain about someone questioning the ballot papers again if you are willing to do the same to a duly elected member,” said Rep. Rodney Davis of Illinois, chief Republican on the House Administration Committee. “Especially since Rita Hart hasn’t completed the Iowa trial. She got straight into politics. “
But after over 120 House Republicans questioned Biden’s victory on the day of the riot on Jan. 6, Democrats said Republicans had no room to complain about the running of elections. McCarthy, however, defended his decision to question the presidential election results in two states, arguing in an irritable exchange with a CNN reporter last week that it wasn’t enough to actually change the result.
The Miller-Meeks campaign picked up on comments from House Democrats who were skeptical of Hart’s challenge. In a call to reporters on Monday, Attorney Alan Ostergren referred to the enormous cost of a taxpayer-funded investigation into the race.
“I wonder if it makes sense for someone to spend millions of dollars on an election campaign,” he said, “when it is clear that there are some Democratic Party members in the house who just think this whole thing is going to start is faulty. ” and should be stopped. “
Privately, some Democrats were stunned by Hart’s decision to question their loss in such a way that members at risk could be forced to vote hard.
In contrast, former MP Anthony Brindisi (D-N.Y.) Opted to end a lengthy dispute over who would be the rightful winner of his New York state seat in February. When a state court ordered GOP MP Claudia Tenney to be victorious with 109 votes, he conceded, despite saying the process was “full of errors, inconsistencies and systematic violations of state and federal electoral law.”
It is not uncommon for candidates to turn to the House Panel, although these reviews rarely result in an election result being overturned. Perhaps the best-known example was after the 1984 election when the Democrats refused to set the Indiana 8th District GOP winner, held a recount, and then voted for their own candidate’s seat. The House Republicans, led by then backbencher Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.), Accused them of trying to steal an election and held a strike in protest against the so-called “Bloody Eighth”.
Now Republicans are warning of a similar setback – both in the elections and in the convention halls – if the Democrats remove Miller-Meeks.
“It would be the most uniform event that we Republicans would have had here in my entire career,” said Davis.
Democrats argue that they are not trying to prove a foregone conclusion – that Hart really won the seat – but are trying to follow the facts without partiality. And some are privately skeptical that the panel would ultimately recommend overturning the election.
“You have to be able to come up with a really convincing case,” said Rep. Dan Kildee (D-Mich.) Convincing case, which includes the arguments of both sides as fully as possible. ”
It is also unclear how much the dynamic would change if the committee uncovered new evidence in Hart’s favor. Some skeptical Democrats say they are open to changing their minds.
“Right now it’s a government problem. We’re getting some facts that tell me otherwise? We’ll look at that too,” Correa said.