Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds of Iowa said a potential push by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to overturn GOP Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks of Iowa's razor-thin victory in November's election "is a partisan power grab."
And Reynolds argued at a news conference on Thursday that if the Democratic-controlled House overturned Miller-Meeks' certified victory, it would be "a forecast of what's to come" if the congressional Democrats' wide-ranging election reform and campaign finance bill becomes law. The governor warned that "state election law would be wiped away."
Miller-Meeks defeated Democrat Rita Hart by just six votes out of nearly 400,000 cast to represent Iowa's 2nd Congressional District, which covers most of the southeastern part of the Hawkeye State. It was the closest margin of any U.S. election in nearly half a century.
Hart is challenging the results – which were certified by the state following a recount – as she points to 22 discarded ballots she says would have made her the winner if they were counted. But rather than go through Iowa’s courts, she asked the Committee on House Administration to investigate.
Pelosi, D-Calif., provisionally seated Miller-Meeks in January when the full House was sworn in. Asked two weeks ago by reporters if she might potentially remove Miller-Meeks and seat Hart, Pelosi said "there could be a scenario to that extent."
Any potential move by the House Administration Committee to award the victory to Hart would have to be approved by a vote in the full chamber, and with a fragile majority, Pelosi can’t afford to lose many Democratic votes.
Reynolds, Iowa's governor since 2017, took aim at Hart, saying that if the Democrat "disagreed with the certified result, she had the option to challenge in Iowa’s fair and impartial courts. Instead, she decided to skip an independent judiciary and went straight to Nancy Pelosi and her Democrat friends in Congress. She choose to skip Iowa courts because she knew that her claims weren’t strong enough to pass the judicial process."
"Rita Hart isn't just asking Congress to overturn a state-certified election. She’s asking Democrats to throw out Iowa law in deciding which votes to count. She actually asked Congress to quote 'depart from Iowa law,'" Reynolds stressed. "It really is as crazy as it sounds. I’m appalled, and I believe that Iowans are just as appalled."
The showdown in the House comes just a few months after congressional Democrats pushed back on then-President Trump’s repeated false claims that there had been massive voter fraud and that the election was stolen from him. Trump attempted to upend his presidential election loss to Joe Biden and claimed that Congress had the power to unilaterally overturn the results of the 2020 election.
A very small but growing number of House Democrats are breaking with their party’s leadership in the Iowa-02 showdown.
Earlier this week, Democratic Rep. Dean Phillips of Minnesota wrote on Twitter that "losing a House election by six votes is painful for Democrats. But overturning it in the House would be even more painful for America."
Hours later, as first reported by Fox News, Democratic Rep. Chris Pappas of New Hampshire said the Iowa election had been decided.
"This election result was certified by the State of Iowa and Rep. Miller-Meeks was sworn in nearly three months ago," he said. "As I said when Republicans challenged the Electoral College votes on January 6th, the election is over and it’s time to move on."
Reynolds, in her comments, also tied the current showdown to the Democrats' sweeping election reform bill which passed along party lines but faces an uncertain future in a split Senate.
The governor warned that "Rita Hart’s request that the House ignore Iowa law – it truly is a forecast of what’s to come if Democrats get their way and H.R. 1 becomes law. If that happens, state election law will be wiped away. We cannot let this happen. We cannot federalize our elections. And if it can happen in Iowa, it can happen in every other state in this country."
Democrats highlight that their bill would "improve access to the ballot box" by creating automatic voter registration across the country and by ensuring that individuals who have completed felony sentences have their full voting rights restored. The bill will also expand early voting and enhance absentee voting by simplifying voting by mail. There was a surge in absentee voting during last year’s primaries and general election due to health concerns of in-person voting at polling stations amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The measure also commits Congress to deliver "full congressional voting rights and self-government for the residents of the District of Columbia, which only statehood can provide," prohibits voter roll purges and aims to end "partisan gerrymandering" of congressional districts.
Republicans slam the measure, saying it would lead to a federal government takeover of elections and accuse Democrats of trying to change election rules to benefit themselves. But Democrats say the measure is needed to combat the push by GOP lawmakers in some states where Republicans control the governors office and the legislature to pass bills that would tighten voting laws, which Democrats characterize as voter suppression.