Failed Democratic congressional candidate Rita Hart is pushing onward with a challenge to her lost election last fall to freshman Republican Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks who was sat in the lower chamber in January. Miller-Meeks was certified the winner by state election officials by six votes.
Hart, however, bypassed state avenues for challenging elections and instead appealed her case directly to the House of Representatives, which may determine its own membership. House Democrats on the Administration Committee greenlit a probe into the Iowa contest Wednesday.
On Thursday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who chose in December to seat Miller-Meeks despite the ongoing challenge launched by Hart, threatened there’s still a chance the House would overturn the Iowa result to add one more Democrat to a razor-thin majority. Pelosi currently presides over the slimmest majority of her congressional career with a nine-vote advantage over House Republicans.
“Could you see a scenario, depending on what they find in their probe, of unseating of the current member and seating Rita Hart if it came to that?” Fox News’ Chad Pergram pressed Pelosi at a Thursday press conference.
“Could you see a scenario? We don’t do press conferences on ‘can you see a scenario.’ Of course!” Pelosi said, repeating herself, “of course!”
“I respect the committee … We’ll see where that takes us. There could also be a scenario to that extent,” the House speaker continued.
On Fox News’ “Special Report” Friday, Miller-Meeks railed the Democrats’ desperate decision to consider Hart’s challenge after the election re-examined by Iowa election officials was declared in the Republican’s favor.
“There is no doubt in my mind, and there is no doubt in the bipartisan executive council who has certified me the winner. So it was not only the secretary of state, it was a bipartisan executive council,” Miller-Meeks said of the results in the contested race. “Iowa law is what determines what our election process is, how the ballots are included, and all of that was done. What my opponent wants to do is to violate Iowa law, to go against Iowa law, and go against the representation of the voters of Iowa, and disenfranchise 400,000 voters.”
Hart’s challenge to the House Administration Committee centers on 22 ballots the Democrat’s campaign argues were improperly rejected. Hart claims that had the ballots been counted, Hart would have carried the race in Iowa’s 2nd Congressional District by nine votes.
Iowa courts however, have been circumvented in reviewing the decision of bipartisan state election officials to seat Miller-Meeks.
The mechanism trigged by Hart to challenge her race has not been used for more than three decades. The last time such an appeal was made directly to the House was in 1984 between Democratic incumbent Frank McCloskey and Republican challenger Richard McIntyre in Indiana. House Speaker Tip O’Neill, who enjoyed a wider majority at the time than held by Pelosi today, denied McIntyre, who won state-certification, a place in the lower chamber until the process was able to play out.
After the Government Accountability Office re-examined the race, it declared McCloskey the winner by a mere four votes, and the Democratic House voted the incumbent member of their caucus would retain the seat.