Dr. Mariannette Miller-Meeks is now Congresswoman-elect Miller-Meeks. Two weeks ago, the Iowa State Canvassing Board–which consists of the Governor, Secretary of State, Ag Secretary, Auditor, and Treasurer (three Republicans and two Democrats)–voted unanimously to certify Miller-Meeks as the winner of Iowa’s Second Congressional District race. It was close (one of the closest-ever) but, after a full recount, Miller-Meeks is now set to take her place in D.C. as one of Iowa’s four representatives.
But the story isn’t over, because Miller-Meeks’ opponent, Democrat Rita Hart, is asking the Democrat-controlled House of Representatives to overturn the Iowa certification and seat her instead. How we got to this point is an interesting tale. And regardless of how it turns out, one thing is already clear: Hart and her advisors have bungled this every step of the way. As one observer recently told me, “Hart’s team has committed political and legal malpractice. Pure and simple.”
Hart’s mistakes have been many, but to name just a few:
~She waited until the last possible day to request a recount, delaying the process for no reason. (Now she’s complaining there wasn’t enough time.)
~She advocated for machine recounts in the majority of counties, despite there being time for a hand recount. (Now she says that the House should do a full hand recount.)
~She took wild and aggressive positions during the recount, including asking Jasper County to certify results from a broken machine (because those results helped her) and firing her Johnson County representative who loudly proclaimed to DCCC lawyers that she would not “go scorched earth” when they asked her to do so.
~And, most stupidly, she skipped over Iowa’s court system–even after the chief justice had sided with Democrats shortly before the election–because, in Hart’s words, the “there was only one way they could get the result that we need,” which was asking Nancy Pelosi and the Democrat-controlled House to hand her the election.
Longtime Iowa Republican strategist David Kochel, who wasn’t involved in the campaign, told me that Hart’s post-election decisions have been so horrible that he owes a “thank you” to Hart’s advisors. Mentioning Democrat lawyer Marc Elias by name, he said, “he either has no political sense or he just likes getting paid for this boondoggle.”
Either way, Hart’s post-election strategy has not only hurt her political standing, but it’s also put other Iowa Democrats in jeopardy.
Cindy Axne, herself just coming off a razor-thin election in which she was saved by the Libertarian candidate, is affected most. Because of Hart’s decision to forgo an Iowa legal process for a partisan DC process, she’s putting Axne in the position of either voting for Miller-Meeks or voting against Iowa. And making matters worse, Axne’s new buddy, Jamie Raskin, is leading the effort to overturn Iowa’s results.
Rob Sand, Iowa’s outspoken state auditor who usually doesn’t hesitate to stick his nose even where it doesn’t belong, has also been silent–though his chief of staff has signified his support for Hart, even promoting one of dumbest moves. Before the election, Sand took to Twitter to lament a court decision concerning Minnesota’s election procedures (Sand admitted later that he didn’t know what he was talking about) but when it comes to the biggest election issue in Iowa, Sand has said nothing. Nada. Zilch.
Why is it that Axne and Sand, two of the highest Democrat officeholders in a state now dominated by Republicans, have remained silent on such an important issue? Maybe they know what everyone except Hart, Elias, and the DCCC knows: that this election contest is political and legal malpractice.
The optics are terrible. So terrible, in fact, that the far-left Des Moines Register editorial board–which said before the election that no Republican deserved to be in office–published an editorial today saying that Hart should concede.
“Even if Hart prevails,” the editorial board wrote, “a decision that’s ultimately made by a Democratic-controlled House will forever taint her service in Congress. And the move could well backfire on her party, providing Iowa Republicans a potent rallying cry of Democratic chicanery for years in races up and down the ballot.”
The editorial board, characterizing one of the Hart team’s Scott County strategy as “head-scratching,” also highlighted how legally and politically stupid it was for Hart to skip over Iowa’s court system and head straight to the liberal partisans in the House: “Going through that process would have demonstrated a commitment to having neutral Iowa arbiters resolve vote-counting problems instead of out-of-state partisans,” the editorial board wrote. “And the option to go to the House would still have been available.”
Other liberal commentators have piled on.
Randy Evans, a former Register editor and one of the most ardent haters of Iowa Republicans, called Hart’s move “embarrassing.” “What was Hart thinking by asking politicians in Washington, rather than judges in Iowa, to rule on her claim that not all legally cast ballots were counted?,” Evans asked. “Does she really think this is how ordinary Iowans want their members of Congress to be chosen?”
Iowa Blogger/activist Laura Belin, another outspoken hater of all things Republican, also said Hart made the wrong choice. “Many commenters in Democratic Twitter circles felt Hart should have gone through every step of the process in Iowa before turning to Congress. I agree,” said Belin.
So there you have it. The trifecta: the Register, Evans, and Belin. If you’re a liberal and you’ve lost them, well, you need to rethink your political life choices. Maybe politics isn’t for you.
Malpractice. Pure and simple.