Tag Archives: Iowa

IA-2: Hart Concedes;
NM-1: Dems Nominate

Iowa Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks’ (R-Ottumwa)

By Jim Ellis

April 2, 2021 — Former Iowa state senator, Rita Hart (D), withdrew her challenge late Wednesday afternoon, before the House Administration Committee pertaining to Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks’ (R-Ottumwa) six-vote victory in the November election. Also, the New Mexico Democratic State Central Committee met virtually over the past two days in order to choose a congressional nominee to fill the state’s 1st District vacancy. The seat is in special election cycle because Deb Haaland resigned her federal legislative office in order to join the Biden cabinet as Interior Secretary. Details below:

Iowa

In a released statement, IA-2 challenger Hart said, “Despite our best efforts to have every vote counted, the reality is that the toxic campaign of political disinformation to attack this constitutional review of the closest congressional contest in 100 years has effectively silenced the voices of Iowans.”

In actuality, the miniscule victory margin is the first such result of this type since 1984, not in 100 years, when in a similar case the House of Representatives decided in early 1985 that then-Rep. Frank McCloskey (D-IN) was re-elected with a four-vote margin.

The IA-2 result was a point of controversy ever since the new Congress was sworn into office on Jan. 3. Instead of challenging the six-vote margin in the Iowa court system, Hart chose to bring her complaint directly to the House of Representatives. She claimed that Iowa election authorities has not counted 22 legal ballots that would have changed the final outcome. The officials retorted that they rejected the ballots for various reasons of noncompliance with state election laws.

After the body’s internal organization process was completed, the House Administration Committee voted on a 6-3 party line vote to hear Hart’s case. There had been much chatter in the news media and blogosphere during the past two weeks about the Democratic leadership wanting to award the seat to Hart, thus displacing Rep. Miller-Meeks who had been provisionally seated on Jan. 3 pending the outcome of the Hart challenge.

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IA-2 Controversy Heating Up

By Jim Ellis

IA-2 Republican congresswoman, Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks

March 31, 2021 — Iowa Democratic congressional candidate Rita Hart’s 2020 election result challenge has recently attracted significant media attention. With rhetoric sharpening on both sides over Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks’ (R-Ottumwa) state certified six-vote victory, let’s examine where the situation stands.

To review, Miller-Meeks held a 47-vote edge on the original canvass, a total that was reduced to just six votes after the state’s full recount. Miller-Meeks was certified the victor based upon the original final total, and then re-certified post recount. The bipartisan Iowa state canvassing board issued both certifications on unanimous votes.

The losing Democratic nominee, former state senator and 2018 lieutenant governor nominee Hart, filed her challenge directly with the US House instead of turning to the Iowa court system. She claims there are 22 uncounted votes that would change the outcome. The local Iowa election authorities rejected these ballots for various reasons. At the time of commencement for the new Congress, the House seated Miller-Meeks provisionally until the Hart challenge is resolved.

The motion was referred to the House Administration Committee, a panel of six Democrats and three Republicans. California Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-San Jose), a close ally of Speaker Nancy Pelosi, is the committee chair. Illinois Rep. Rodney Davis (R-Taylorville) is the ranking Republican member. The committee held one hearing on the challenge and agreed on a partisan roll call vote to conduct an investigation and hear her case. The committee has not voted to remove Rep. Miller-Meeks, nor has the case been sent from the committee to the House floor.

Should the complaint come before the full body, and with a 6-3 Democratic majority on the Administration Committee, chances are strong that the Hart case will advance, the Democratic leadership may have a difficult time in obtaining the votes to remove Miller-Meeks.

They certainly would face a united Republican conference, meaning 211 votes assuming that Miller-Meeks would not be allowed to vote on her own seating. If they move after the April 24 Louisiana special election where a double-Democratic runoff assures them of gaining an extra seat and increasing the majority conference total to 220, they could afford to lose no more than four Democratic votes in order to successfully take the seat from Miller-Meeks and award it to Hart.

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Will Miller-Meeks’ 6-Vote Win Stand?

By Jim Ellis

IA-2 Republican congresswoman Mariannette Miller-Meeks

March 12, 2021 — Yesterday, the House Administration Committee met virtually to consider Iowa Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks’ (R-Ottumwa) motion to dismiss the Federal Contested Elections Act challenge from Democrat Rita Hart in relation to the state certified results of the 2020 congressional election in Iowa’s 2nd District. The committee voted 6-3 on partisan lines to postpone the dismissal action.

To review, Rep. Miller-Meeks’ victory margin is only six votes of 394,800 ballots cast. Hart is challenging the results before the House Administration Committee claiming that 22 ballots, enough to overturn the final result, were legal but not counted.

Yesterday’s hearing was procedural in that committee chair Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) moved to postpone hearing the dismissal motion in order for the members to fully consider Hart’s argument of contestant. Rep. Lofgren indicated that both the Iowa Republican and Democratic Parties, along with Iowa election officials, will be sent identical questionnaires to fully investigate the matter. This means we can expect a much longer process to fully examine the contested ballots, allow testimony, and review the Iowa recount process.

Committee Minority Ranking Member Rodney Davis (R-IL) countered, indicating that the Iowa officials have twice counted the votes and, as committee member Bryan Steil (R-WI) reported, recount boards in all 24 counties that form the 2nd District – three member panels comprised of a Miller-Meeks’ appointed member, a Hart appointed member, and a county appointed member – all agreed on the final totals in each local entity.

Davis further explained to the committee members and listening audience that Hart, a former Iowa state senator and 2018 nominee for lieutenant governor, had eschewed the available legal process, which is to petition the Iowa court system. Davis said he concludes Hart made the decision to come directly to the House because she knew the courts would reject her legal arguments.

The Iowa recount process changed the original totals. The first reported outcome revealed a 44-vote Miller-Meeks margin. It then dropped to 30 votes during the recount and Scott County (Davenport), the district’s largest entity, reduced the number even further culminating in the current six-vote final result that the Iowa secretary of state certified as official, with which the bipartisan Iowa Election Canvass Board unanimously concurred. On Jan. 3rd, the House voted to provisionally seat Miller-Meeks until the Hart challenge is resolved.

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Judge Orders Tenney Certified

By Jim Ellis

Former New York Rep. Claudia Tenney (R)

Feb. 9, 2021 — After more than three months of legal wrangling about whether former Rep. Claudia Tenney (R) defeated 116th Congress Rep. Anthony Brindisi (D-Utica) in New York’s 22nd Congressional District, a judicial ruling on Friday afternoon at last paves the way for a final certification from the New York State Board of Elections.

The NY-22 campaign is obviously the last to receive an initial final count. Another result, from the IA-2 contest that came down to a six-vote margin, is before in the House of Representatives. In this instance, the state of Iowa long ago certified that victory margin and Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks (R-Ottumwa) is provisionally seated pending a challenge referred to the House Administration Committee.

Returning to the New York situation, State Supreme Court of Oswego County Justice Scott DelConte early last week ordered election representatives from the eight counties, all or parts of which comprise the 22nd District, to appear in his court and certify the final totals, but he then suspended the order. This, after Brindisi appealed indicating that such a decision would cause him “irreparable harm.” Justice DelConte responded, saying he would take the motion under advisement until Feb. 5.

With his new ruling, Justice DelConte re-affirmed the previous order for the counties to send their certified totals to the state Board of Elections. The aggregate electoral sum will reflect a Tenney victory margin of 109 votes. The initial public count on Election Night ended with her leading by over 28,000 votes, which would drop to her trailing by just 14 tallies when the outstanding mail ballots from several counties were added. The post-election tabulation that included late-arriving votes from overseas and other ancillary ballots was then adjusted into a Tenney 12-vote edge and later 29, before yielding to an unofficial preliminary final count of a 122-vote spread.

Now, after the Justice has ruled on all contested votes – more than 600 after the two parties agreed on resolutions to an additional 500-plus ballots – a Tenney victory margin of 109 votes becomes the official final tally that will be transmitted to the state.

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Nevada’s Harry Reid Re-Emerges

By Jim Ellis

Feb. 5, 2021 — Former Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) is no longer in elective office, but it appears he’s still active in politics. Now, Reid has a new cause: making Nevada the first-in-the-nation presidential nomination contest.

Former Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid (D-NV)

Reports suggest that the former party leader is lobbying Democratic officials to change the order of nomination voting. As we know, Iowa is the first caucus state to vote, followed by the New Hampshire primary. The Nevada caucus then follows, and then onto the South Carolina primary before Super Tuesday voting commences.

Reid, and others, are arguing that neither Iowa nor New Hampshire are representative of the core Democratic Party, and therefore should not receive the undue attention from being scheduled as the first caucus and primary despite tradition yielding such.

He points out that in 2020 the Iowa caucus system became colluded and poorly administered thus leading to a situation that even today it is unclear as to who actually won the caucus vote. While Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) received the most votes, it was former South Bend mayor and now US Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg who came away with the most delegates.

In New Hampshire, Reid contends that the eventual nominee, and of course general election winner, Joe Biden, placed fifth in the Granite State Democratic primary before his candidacy was rescued with a big primary win in South Carolina. He fails to mention, however, that Biden also lost Nevada, coming in a poor second to Sen. Sanders (40-19 percent) and just ahead of Buttigieg’s 17 percent.

Since 1952, there have been 13 New Hampshire Democratic presidential primaries in races that did not involve a party incumbent. In only five of those campaigns did the Granite State voters back the eventual party nominee. The last time the state chose a nominee who went onto win an open or challenge race for the Presidency occurred in 1976. In that year, Jimmy Carter won the New Hampshire primary, and then proceeded to unseat then-President Gerald Ford in a close general election.

In reality, however, South Carolina may actually have the best argument about moving into the first primary position. The South Carolina presidential primary system began in 1988. Since then, the state has hosted seven such Democratic elections where no president of their party was seeking re-election. In its history, the eventual party nominee has won five of the seven Palmetto State presidential primaries.

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