The incoming House majority leader said Democrats might refuse to seat a North Carolina Republican next year unless and until “substantial” questions about the integrity of his election are resolved.
Rep. Steny H. Hoyer (D-Md.), the current minority whip, made the comments to reporters Tuesday as North Carolina election officials investigate whether an operative hired by Republican candidate Mark Harris illegally collected incomplete ballots from voters.
The probe has delayed the certification of Harris’s narrow victory in North Carolina’s 9th Congressional District, and the state officials could decide to call for a new election. Harris and Democrat Dan McCready are separated by 905 votes, according to unofficial returns.
But Hoyer’s comments throw into doubt whether, if Harris’s win is ultimately certified, he would be sworn in as a member.
“If there is what appears to be a very substantial question on the integrity of the election, clearly we would oppose Mr. Harris being seated until that is resolved,” Hoyer said Tuesday.
Hoyer said he intended to discuss the matter with Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.), who is expected to chair the Committee on House Administration next year. Under federal law, that panel is empowered to independently investigate the election and make recommendations about how the dispute should be resolved — including calling for a new election.
Hoyer made reference to the contested 1996 election between then-Rep. Bob Dornan (R-Calif.) and Democratic challenger Loretta Sanchez. Sanchez won by fewer than 984 votes, but Dornan later claimed that the election had been stolen because of illegal votes from non-U. S. citizens.