Ho ho, of course it is, but House Democrats hope no one notices. There might be one difference, to be fair: Donald Trump tried to use brute political force to change the outcome of elections, and failed. House Democrats are trying to use brute political force to change the outcome of an election in Iowa’s second congressional district, and they may well succeed if enough of them stay shameless enough to pull this off:
House Democrats are undeterred by the mounting GOP criticism over their review of a contested congressional race that could potentially overturn a state-certified Republican victory in southeast Iowa, brushing back attacks that they are seeking to subvert the will of voters just months after lambasting former President Donald Trump for trying to reverse his electoral defeat.
While Democrats say what’s happening in Iowa’s 2nd Congressional District is nothing like Trump’s lies about widespread fraud and a stolen election that ultimately led to the January 6 attack on the US Capitol, they are aware of the optics of potentially booting out a member of Congress from the opposing party who was declared the winner by bipartisan state election officials.
Rita Hart lost this election to Marianette Miller-Meeks by six votes. That result has been certified by the state after a lengthy election challenge — but not, notably, in court. Rather than appeal to the state judiciary, Hart brought her challenge to the House, asking Democrats and Nancy Pelosi to use their power to simply declare her the winner.
Democrats will take her challenge up soon, and they’re trying their best to distance themselves from the “optics,” as CNN puts it. How can they justify overturning an election in a year when they accused Trump of treason for undermining confidence in the results of elections elsewhere? “We live in a cynical time,” Rep. Jamie Raskin tried saying in defense of the effort.
If that name sounds vaguely familiar to you, it might be because Raskin was an impeachment manager two months ago.
Republicans are making sure the “optics” are front and center:
Republicans are outraged that she’s taken her case to a friendly audience in the Democratic-led House, rather than to the courts, and say it’s a brazen attempt by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to pad her razor-thin majority with an extra seat.
“They were complaining because Republicans wouldn’t tell people that Biden won the election on November 4, the day after the election, and now they’re playing this game? It just doesn’t add up,” said Chuck Grassley, the state’s long-serving GOP senator.
As is Miller-Meeks’ attorney, who points out that Democrats have to argue that state law and oversight no longer matter to pull this off:
But Miller-Meeks’ attorney Alan Ostergren told CNN “it is a worry” that the Democratic-controlled House will reprise its 1985 decision to seat the Democrat over the state-certified Republican. He said that Hart could’ve gone to court instead of Congress.
“Our focus is on the fact that we have a certificate of election, and that there was a process that Hart could have chosen that was based on law, administered by judges, that she bypassed in favor of one administered by her own political party,” said Ostergren.
“The argument on their 22 ballots is almost exclusively that state law should not matter,” he added. “That’s a pretty troubling argument to make.”
It’s not quite the same argument that Trump and his legal team kept making in the aftermath of the election, but it’s not far off from it either. At least Trump appealed to state governments to change the election results in his favor, even if he and his team made nonsense legal and conspiracy arguments to do so. In this case, the House at least seems open to simply invalidating a certified election result in order to get the result they want, and simply because they can.
That’s not an “optics” problem. That’s an undermining-elections problem, and it’s a corruption problem. Is this one seat really worth it?
Update: Mitch McConnell might have been quoting this post. Probably more that this point is obvious:
McConnell, on the floor, now railing on House review of the Iowa race. "Speaker Pelosi and Washington Democrats have set out to overturn the results right here in Congress. … Democratic leadership is trying to use brute political power to kick her out."
— Manu Raju (@mkraju) March 18, 2021