Earlier today I wrote about the still contested race in NY-22. But there is one other race in the country that hasn’t been decided, at least not finally. The race in Iowa-2 was the closest in the country this cycle. Republican Marianette Miller-Meeks and Democrat Rita Hart had several lead changes last month. Miller-Meeks was eventually certified the winner with a lead of just 6 votes.
Hart decided not to challenge the narrow victory in court. Instead, she appealed directly to the House of Representatives which has the ability to investigate races and give the final say over who is seated in a given race. Since Democrats control the chamber, that means the outcome is ultimately up to Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Today, Politico reports that Pelosi will seat Miller-Meeks as the currently certified winner of the race, however a House investigation of the race will continue.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi confirmed Wednesday that she plans to seat the GOP winner of a contested race in Iowa on Jan. 3, despite a pending challenge from the Democratic contender in the razor-thin election…
Pelosi made the announcement during a press conference Wednesday, when she succinctly replied “yes” when asked if she planned to seat Miller-Meeks before moving on to another question.
“Every vote counts and that’s why the Committee on House Administration is conducting a thorough and fair review of this election to make sure every vote was counted and counted as cast,” Pelosi’s spokesperson, Drew Hammill, elaborated in a statement following the press conference. “Pending the outcome of the Committee’s review and consistent with House practice, we intend to provisionally seat the Republican candidate on Sunday.”
In Hart’s challenge she argued that 22 rejected ballots should have been counted and, if they had, she would have been certified the winner. The House Administration Committee chaired by Democrat Zoe Lofgren will now investigate those claims.
Politico notes that Democrats could have refused to seat Miller-Meeks until the review, which could include a recount, was complete but “many Democrats were privately worried about the optics.” Yes, it does look bad to be openly rejecting the certified winner of the election in favor of the Democrat. The Des Moines Register’s Editorial Board published an editorial earlier this month calling on Rita Hart to concede:
Hart could have granted a powerful endorsement to Iowa’s election system by conceding. She should reconsider and do that now, for the sake of her party and all Iowans. Iowa doesn’t need more partisan bile infecting its politics, especially at a time when state government and its congressional delegation should be focused on helping Iowans stay safe in the COVID-19 pandemic and weather its financial hardships.
And then Hart should run again. She needs only to look at Miller-Meeks, a first-time winner in her fourth bid for Congress, to recognize the virtue of persistence.
My own guess, which I’ve stated before, is that Democrats don’t want to make waves while the special elections in Georgia are still taking place. Those are Senate races of course but news of Democrats refusing to seek Miller-Meeks would have reflected badly on the party and they can’t afford to take that chance. However, once those elections are over next week, Democrats could start to gear up to make a case for flipping the seat. We may have to wait several weeks to find out what House Democrats decide to do if there is going to be a full recount first.