Unlike Donald Trump, Democratic Iowa House candidate Rita Hart could have a case.
A candidate seeking a review of an apparent election defeat is drawing outrage from Republican lawmakers.
Because this time, it isn't Donald Trump.
Many of the same people criticizing Iowa Democrat Rita Hart's decision to contest the result of the race for Iowa's 2nd Congressional District, which she lost by six votes, have vocally defended Trump's attempt to overturn his 2020 presidential election loss to Joe Biden, whose total of 306 Electoral College votes Trump once called a "landslide."
On Tuesday, Hart formally asked the House of Representatives to review uncounted ballots that she believes could reverse her defeat last month. The state certified Republican Mariannette Miller-Meeks' victory by a total of 196,964 votes to Hart's 196,958 on Nov. 30.
Republicans were quick to lambaste Hart for challenging the vote count in what they charged was a "political" move in appealing to the House. Hart has said she opted to file the challenge with the House instead of in the courts because Iowa law did not allow sufficient time for a judicial challenge after the votes were counted.
"Rita Hart's attempt to leapfrog Iowans and our judicial process in favor of Nancy Pelosi's partisan process demonstrates a lack of respect for Iowa's election results," Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds tweeted on Tuesday.
"Disappointed that Rita Hart has chosen a partisan political process to overturn @millermeeks's victory in #IA02," agreed her lieutenant governor, Adam Gregg.
The National Republican Congressional Committee tweeted, "@RitaHartIA's decision to bypass the Iowa courts and ask Nancy Pelosi to use a partisan political process to throw out the results of this election is nothing but a naked power grab."
"Rita Hart declined to pursue a legal challenge, which is provided for under Iowa law," argued George Hartmann, the press secretary for Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA). "Instead of that local, court-based process, she is pushing to overturn her loss in a partisan process."
Sen. Tom Cotton, who represents the not-even-neighboring state of Arkansas and has not actually served in the House since 2015, weighed in, tweeting, "Democrat Rita Hart lost because she put her loyalty to Nancy Pelosi ahead of Iowa. Now, she's asking Nancy Pelosi to steal the election and disenfranchise Iowa voters. @millermeeks won. She will represent Iowa."
Last week, the Hill published an op-ed written by Rep. Rodney Davis of Illinois, the ranking Republican on the Committee on House Administration, which oversees election contests, suggesting that House Democrats were trying to "steal a congressional seat" and threatening retaliation "when the shoe is on the other foot" in the future.
Trump, who lost the popular election last month by more than 7 million votes and was defeated 306 to 232 in the Electoral College, has also sought to have Congress overturn his defeat during next month's joint session.
And even though Trump has produced no evidence of fraud or significant errors and his last-ditch strategy appears doomed, some of those same Republicans who are attacking Hart have fiercely defended his refusal to accept defeat.
"@realDonaldTrump has every right to pursue legal remedies and recounts," Cotton tweeted last month. "This is worth fighting for."
"Well, he has every right to make sure that every legal challenge that he and his team want to mount is made," concurred Davis earlier this month. "But you know, this is an issue that the president is going to continue to pursue all legal options to make sure every vote that was cast was legally cast and counted."
"President Trump, his campaign, and supporters have every right to pursue lawful, legal actions in the courts," Reynolds said a few days later. "The American people deserve a fair and transparent election."
Unlike Trump, it appears Hart may have a plausible case.
According to her filing with the House, 22 ballots were wrongly excluded from the count — more than enough to make up the narrow gap. She also alleges that counties improperly left thousands of lawful votes uncounted due to a lack of uniform standards for the recount.
The House, which under the Constitution has the right to judge the "elections and returns" of its members, will now have to weigh Hart's challenge before deciding whom to seat next month.
Hart is requesting that incorrectly excluded votes be counted and that a hand recount of the votes in the race be conducted. Even if the House seats Miller-Meeks, it may later declare Hart the winner and seat her instead if she succeeds in her challenge.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.