House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) was asked by Iowa’s secretary of state to reject a move by House Democrats to investigate and possibly overturn a congressional election won by Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks (R-Iowa) on behalf of Democratic challenger Rita Hart.
Pelosi this month signaled that she was open to the possibility that the seat would be overturned, while Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.), the chair of the House Administration Committee, said that Miller-Meeks’ only won by six votes.
Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate, a Republican, wrote a letter (pdf) dated March 26 to Pelosi, urging her “to reject any attempts to overturn the will of Iowa voters.”
Pate continued to say that the “Hart campaign signed off on the recount procedures and results in all 24 counties” and said that “the bipartisan State Canvassing Board unanimously accepted the results and officially certified the election,” noting that Miller-Meeks defeated her opponent by six votes.
Pate then refuted Hart’s allegation that Iowa state law didn’t grant her adequate time to address the challenge.
“Ms. Hart has stated that her reason for failing to give Iowans a voice in this process is that Iowa law does not allow for sufficient time to review her claims,” Pate wrote. “That assertion is in stark contrast to the fact that Iowa’s Judicial Branch has always gone above and beyond to issue expeditious rulings in cases concerning election law. The Hart campaign should have exhausted all state avenues before asking a federal chamber controlled by her party to make the final determination. Iowans should have the final say in all Iowa elections, not Washington, D.C., politicians.”
Last week, when asked by a reporter about whether the congressional race was determined in the House, Pelosi said Congress has the ability to overturn contested elections.
“I would say to them, if you lost by six votes, would you like to bring your case before that?” Pelosi asked. “Now, if I wanted to be unfair, I wouldn’t have seated the Republican from Iowa. Because that was my right on the opening day. I would have just said, ‘You’re not seated.’ And that would have been my right as Speaker to do. But we didn’t want to do that. We just said, ‘Let’s just go through this process,’” she said.
It came after several Democratic House representatives criticized Pelosi and other House leaders about the move.
Among them, Rep. Dean Phillips (D-Minn.) said, “Losing a House election by six votes is painful for Democrats” but “overturning it in the House would be even more painful for America.”