Speaker Nancy Pelosi suffered her first setback of this Congress Wednesday as the drive to overturn an Iowa House election imploded. Rita Hart, the Democratic candidate challenging Republican Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks’s victory, announced that “after many conversations with people I trust about the future of this contest, I have made the decision to withdraw.”
Democrats would have needed a House majority to vote to unseat Rep. Miller-Meeks and install Ms. Hart, who lost by six votes. But in recent weeks several House Democrats, including swing-district Members, started to doubt the optics of invalidating a state-certified election. That looks like it was enough to derail the process in a closely divided House. If Mrs. Pelosi enjoyed the 36-seat Democratic advantage that existed before 2020, we have no doubt the outcome would have been different.
Ms. Hart complains in her statement about a “toxic campaign of political disinformation to attack this constitutional review of the closest congressional contest in 100 years.” Yet she brought the scrutiny on herself by declining to bring complaints before Iowa’s judiciary and instead taking her challenge directly to the House run by her party.
Ms. Hart retained Marc Elias, a Democratic litigator, who turned up the partisan temperature. In a brief last week he told a House committee it could “exercise its discretion to depart from Iowa law” in counting ballots. He said a review by the Democratic-controlled House offered a more “equitable approach” than Iowa state court.
The Constitution says the House can disqualify Members’ elections, but that power hasn’t been used in more than three decades, and should be reserved for cases of serious misconduct. Iowa’s 2nd district underwent a regular count and intensive recount that confirmed the outcome, which was endorsed by both Democrats on the state elections board.
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