Pelosi to seat Democrat though Republican won?

The certified winner of an office in the U.S. House of Representatives may not be seated with other members of Congress by incoming speaker Nancy Pelosi next week for one reason.

He's a Republican.

In an extremely close race in Florida's 13th District, Republican Vern Buchanan defeated Democrat Christine Jennings by 369 votes. But ongoing legal challenges by Democrats are putting Buchanan's claim to the seat in jeopardy, now that the party in control of the majority has shifted away from the GOP.

"The bottom line here is that nothing's off the table," Pelosi spokesman Drew Hammill told the Sarasota Herald-Tribune.

The paper reports Pelosi has refused to shut the door on Jennings, until all audits, lawsuits and a House investigation are completed.

Aides for Buchanan say the Republican will be in the nation's capital next month despite the threat from Pelosi's office.

"Historical precedent is that when there's a contested race the certified winner be seated," said Buchanan spokeswoman Sally Tibbetts. "Therefore, we fully expect Vern Buchanan to be seated on Jan. 4."

But Pelosi's office says seating a certified victor is more of a Republican interpretation and not a concrete rule. For instance, in 1984, a Democrat-controlled House refused to seat Republican Richard McIntyre, the certified winner by 418 votes after a state-ordered recount.

Two weeks ago, national Democratic Party Chairman Howard Dean said Buchanan should "absolutely not" be seated Jan. 4.

But not all Democrats appear to be jumping on the bandwagon to keep out the Republican.

"At most, he should be seated provisionally," said Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla., a close ally of Jennings. "In my mind, I can't really justify leaving the constituents of the 13th District without representation during the House Administration and the court's review."

At this point, neither a state audit of the touch-screen voting machines nor lawsuits by Jennings and voting groups have produced any evidence to suggest malfunction on Election Day.

The contested election is now in the political realm as Jennings has taken her challenge to Congress, filing a contest with the House Administration Committee seeking an investigation and, possibly, a new election.

Such a move could take months to resolve.

If Buchanan is indeed seated next week, history would be on his side for keeping it. Out of 105 contests filed since 1933, only twice has someone been unseated, with the last occurrence in 1967.


Sam said...

This is not a partisan issue.
We G.O.P's do need to stick together. It's true. But as a Sarasota resident who has followed this issue very closely I feel obliged to offer a counterpoint. This has ceased to be a partisan issue (whatever Ms. Jennings' motivations may be) and has become quite the frightening Orwellian political fiasco. Now, we can hold fast to our party loyalty, but we should use wisdom in deciding which horse to back on this issue because there are very clearly some shady underpinnings and it would not serve the Republican party to crawl into bed with some of these folks. They have great potential to make us look like jackasses when the you-know-what hits the fan. (And God knows some of our bretheren in the Sunshine State have been less than stellar examples of the Republican ideal)
Miguel DeGrandy, a lawyer for ES&S Inc., contends that Christine Jennings (and a bevy of concerned voters) has not shown enough specific evidence to warrant a review of their clandestine computer codes. This is the sort of paradox that Joseph Heller would have a field day with!
Voter: Pardon me. Might we have a gander at those hash codes?
ES&S: We won�t show you the hash codes. You don�t have enough evidence to warrant an investigation of our hash codes.
Voter: Well, where do I get the evidence to warrant an investigation?
ES&S: I guess you�d have to look at the hash codes.
Voter: But I can�t see the hash codes?�
ES&S: Unfortunately, no. They�re a proprietary secret and can only be revealed when sufficient evidence is presented that there has been a malfunction.
Voter: And to provide sufficient evidence I would have to see�
ES&S: The hash codes, yes.

A classic Catch 22 which, in effect, grants the proprietary secrets of ES&S more legal protection than the voting rights of 18, 000 Americans. It would be funny if it weren�t so heartbreaking and dangerous to our democracy. And it makes us look ridiculous.

The overwhelming reaction to Christine Jennings� unrelenting and seemingly unwinnable battle is one of disgust. Sally Tibbets, a spokesperson for Vern Buchanan, insists that Jennings is �ignoring the will of the people and undermining voter confidence in the democratic process�. Well, maybe our confidence in the democratic process SHOULD be undermined. I would go so far as to say it already is.

Representative Tom Feeny says that Jennings goal is not voter reform but instead a �total political dictatorship�.

This kind of histrionic, partisan outrage is what gives the GOP a bad name and plays right into the hands of the liberals who so enjoy labeling the entire party as moral and intellectual mongrels. When one stands their ground, regardless of their party affiliation, and uses their position to protest an issue that is patently absurd in its transparency they stand to be chastised, called cry babies, egomaniacs, and forced to face political ruin by just the sort of ham handed hyperbole that Rep. Feeny (a piss poor Republican) is spouting. The simple fact is, the to chagrin of her detractors, that Ms. Jennings has nothing to lose and this sort of verbal bullying will not dissuade her from tackling this issue head on. The American public has been victimized by one of two things a)official incompetence or b) official dishonesty. In any event, Jennings and her outraged constituents will personally see to it that these sort of shenanigans are brought out into the open, investigated in earnest, and remedied. And, though none of them are the sorts of people I'd want to have dinner with, I must salute them. As a Republican I stand firmly behind a representative government and when the people are not represented, intentionally or unintentionally, we are no better than the Chinese. Let's not force ourselves to endure another burlesque fiasco in 2008. Give this biddy her day in court. Pelosi's not going to unseat Buchanan. Not a chance. But this voting machine issue needs to be addressed and if it's on Jennings' dime, I'm all for it..

I challenge anyone who takes issue with this investigation to tell me why this process shouldn�t be permitted. If election officials and ES&S spokespeople are so certain that there were no computer errors then why not give up the hash codes and allow independent investigation? The threat of undermining voters� confidence in the democratic process comes not from asking questions but from refusing to find answers to them.

Sam Mossler
Sarasota, FL

J.R. said...

Thank You for your comments and opinions on the issue, Sam.

However, though I don't have a problem with the investigation, I have a problem with Pelsosi saying she will not seat Buchanan. The fact of the matter is that we will not know if there was a problem until the investigation is complete. We should not be automatically assuming that there was a problem just because someone alledges there was.

I think one of your own area Democrats has the right solution to this dilema for now:

"At most, he should be seated provisionally," said Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla., a close ally of Jennings. "In my mind, I can't really justify leaving the constituents of the 13th District without representation during the House Administration and the court's review."

Then let the cards fall where they may. Too bad soon to be Speaker Pelosi didn't think of this before she started her partisan ranting.


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