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House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) has amped up his criticism of Democrats’ handling of a contested Iowa congressional race, writing a letter to Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) Monday that accused her of trying to “manipulate” the process to ensure that her party’s candidate unseats the Republican, who won the November election by six votes.
The race — for Iowa’s 2nd district — pitted Mariannette Miller-Meeks (R) against Rita Hart (D), who challenged the results after the state certified a GOP win. Hart eschewed state channels and took her appeal to the House Administration Committee, which Pelosi said has the authority to review the claims.
But McCarthy, along with a chorus of other top Republicans, is asking Pelosi to dismiss the challenge and allow Miller-Meeks to continue serving.
“While the Constitution gives Congress the authority to determine its own members, it is unprecedented and antithetical to our democracy to unseat the duly elected and certified winner of a state election simply because you have the majority,” states McCarthy’s letter, which was first reported by Politico.
The GOP leader concluded: “I urge you to put your faith in our democracy and dismiss this partisan contest.”
Hart contends that 22 ballots were unjustly rejected and that if they had been counted, she would have won. In a briefing filed with the House on Monday, Hart’s attorney Marc Elias argued that the committee should take up and resolve the case quickly, especially considering that “this is a remarkably close election.” Elias accused Republicans of disenfranchising the 22 people whose ballots allegedly still needed counting.
“The position of Contestee Miller-Meeks and the Republican Party is now clear: the right to vote is worthy of neither respect nor protection,” the filing says.
Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.), who chairs the House Administration Committee, said in a statement last week that Congress is compelled to review challenges and that it has done so for nearly a century, with cases filed by both parties.
“We did not seek out these contests, but we are obligated under federal law to follow the process and the facts,” Lofgren said, adding that “it is profoundly disappointing some of my Republican colleagues are now painting this process as somehow nefarious.”
Republicans have increased their political pressure over the Iowa race in recent weeks, with McCarthy traveling to Miller-Meeks’s district this week.
But Democrats say that they are following a legal process, drawing a contrast to supporters of former president Donald Trump — including McCarthy — who voted to throw out electoral college votes for President Biden.