Mariannette Miller-Meeks win over Rita Hart in Iowa faces House challenge

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The “Stop the Steal” slogan is back, this time in the ongoing battle over the election result in Iowa’s 2nd Congressional District.

House Democrats are moving full speed ahead with an investigation that could replace Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks with Democrat Rita Hart, and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, California Democrat, is not standing in the way.

“The fact is, the Democrats have the votes to steal this election,” Ms. Miller-Meeks said in an email to supporters Monday. “It’s wrong, it’s unethical, but they may do it anyway because they’ll stop at nothing in their quest for power.

“Our only hope is to spread the word as far and wide as we can and hope that we can apply enough pressure to stop the Pelosi steal,” she said.

Ms. Hart finished six votes behind Ms. Miller-Meeks in the November election, making it the second-closest U.S. House race in 100 years.

Ms. Hart has challenged the results and met the bar necessary to trigger an investigation from the Committee on House Administration, which is charged with adjudicating contested elections under the Federal Contested Elections Act of 1969.

“To me, it is politics,” said David Yepsen, a veteran political observer of Iowa politics. “The Democrats are in control of the House, and you know they are going to need every vote they can. So Pelosi, it looks like, is going to make a replacement.”

Since 1933, there have been 107 elections contested properly in the House, according to a report from the Congressional Research Services. It found the candidate contesting the results was seated on just three occasions.

On one occasion, the House didn’t seat anyone in the disputed race.

The other race now under consideration is in Illinois 14th Congressional District, where Republican Jim Oberweis is contesting his loss to Democratic Rep. Lauren Underwood.

Critics of the Hart challenge point out that Democrats cried foul when former President Donald Trump and his allies claimed the 2020 election was stolen from him.

“They were complaining because Republicans wouldn’t tell people that Biden won the election on Nov. 4, the day after the election, and now they’re playing this game? It just doesn’t add up,” Sen. Chuck Grassley told CNN. The Republican has been representing Iowa in the Senate since 1980.

If successful, the challenge would provide Mrs. Pelosi and other Democrats with a sliver of additional room in the House, where they hold a narrow 219-211 majority.

Some Democrats are pumping the brakes on the challenge.

“Losing a House election by six votes is painful for Democrats,” Rep. Dean Phillips of Minnesota said Monday in a post on Twitter. “But overturning it in the House would be even more painful for America. Just because a majority can, does not mean a majority should.”

J. Miles Coleman of the University of Virginia’s Center for Politics said Mr. Phillips could reflect the view of a number of rank-and-file Democrats.

“What the Democrats need to realize is that in politics, perception is everything,” Mr. Coleman said. “Just at a time where people don’t have the best confidence in our elections — I don’t know. It would not send a great message.”

Ms. Miller-Meeks was sworn into office in January after the Iowa Board of Canvassers certified her victory over Ms. Hart.

Ms. Hart said 22 ballots were not counted during the canvassing but should have. She said that would have swung the result.

The House Administration Committee is charged with handling the accusation and passing along recommendations to the full House on how best to resolve the issue.

Ms. Miller-Meeks and Ms. Hart on Monday filed briefs with the panel.

Rep. Zoe Lofgren, California Democrat and chairwoman of the House Administration Committee, told her colleagues last week that refusing to investigate the challenge would be a dereliction of duty.

“That is 6 votes, not 6,000, not 600, not 60 or even 16, just 6 — fewer votes than we have members of this committee,” Ms. Lofgren said.

“It is the committee’s constitutional duty to investigate all of these claims,” she said. “It should be no surprise that any candidate in these circumstances with the margin this close would seek to exercise their rights under the law to contest the results.”

Republicans, however, said Ms. Hart, who filed her challenge in December, could have pressed the issue in court but instead looked for the Democratic-controlled House to subvert the will of Iowa voters.

“She’s choosing to pursue a partisan process in the House, where Democrat members of Congress, not Iowa voters, will determine their representation in Congress,” said Rep. Rodney Davis of Illinois, the ranking on the administration panel.

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