The Democratic leader in the U.S. House said Thursday that Republicans are challenging the seating of Maine’s newly elected congressman, Democrat Jared Golden of Lewiston.
Talking with reporters, U.S. Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., cited three races in which there may be objections filed about incoming lawmakers, especially one in North Carolina that appears to have involved cheating.
“To add insult to injury about what the Republicans did in these races, they are now challenging the seating of our member in Maine,” Pelosi said.
She said they are “questioning the process” of ranked-choice voting that delivered victory to Golden last month in his race against two-term U.S. Rep. Bruce Poliquin, a Republican.
“You know,” Pelosi said, “they have ranked voting, which has been voted on twice by the people of Maine as their method of having an election. And now the Republicans are saying, ‘Well …’”
“There’s even a question as to the constitutionality of ranked voting, in their view,” Pelosi said. “But if they won, of course, there’d be no question about the constitutionality of it.”
Pelosi said any incoming House member can object to the seating of anyone else.
Those most likely to find objections filed are GOP winners from Florida and North Carolina, whose races are under intense scrutiny.
If objections are raised, the House can ignore them and seat members as it wants. It can also set up a special committee to investigate, which it has done in the past.
“The House still retains the right to decide who is seated. That is one of the powers of the House of Representatives,” Pelosi said.
Poliquin has asked a federal judge in Bangor to overturn the results that led to Golden’s victory or to order a new election. At Poliquin’s request, and at his expense, the state is doing a recount in the race that may not be done until next year.
The new Congress takes office on Jan. 3. Golden has said he’ll take the oath of office that day.
Since Democrats will control the next session of the House after racking up wins in November, there’s not much the GOP can do on Capitol Hill to stop Golden from taking office unless they can convince enough Democrats that there are issues worth exploring about Maine’s election.
Golden voted against Pelosi for speaker in a caucus session of incoming House Democrats. He repeatedly promised during the campaign not to vote for her, insisting that it’s time for new leadership.
House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi of California, the speaker-designate for the new Congress in January, meets with reporters at her weekly news conference Thursday on Capitol Hill in Washington. (Associated Press)