GOP Bites Off More than Can Chew on Election Suits
by Jonathan Singer, Tue Apr 14, 2009 at 03:02:03 PM EDT
Todd has already noted the ridiculous news that the campaign of Republican Jim Tedisco, trailing in the counting of ballots in the special congressional election in New York's 20th district, has decided to go out on a limb and challenge the absentee ballot of former-Congresswoman Kirsten Gillibrand, whose appointment as Senator created the vacancy the special election was held to fill. But I just wanted to jump in for a moment, looking more broadly than just the NY-20 race, and lay out a few thoughts on what appears to be a growing trend: Republicans trying to achieve in the courtroom what they could not in the ballot box.
This, of course, isn't an entirely new trend -- in fact it's an old one. It's been twenty years since the Republicans used the ethics process to oust a Speaker of the House, Jim Wright, and a decade since Republicans went forward with the ill-conceived and unsupported impeachment of Bill Clinton. Yet this still feels different.
Yes, the Republicans used the federal courts to secure victory in the 2000 Presidential election, counting on the support of a Supreme Court with a 7 to 2 majority of GOP-appointees. Still, this all feels different, the Republican efforts both in the New York special election and the still ongoing(!) litigation surrounding last year's Minnesota Senate election.
Republicans are flailing. They are throwing any legal theory out, no matter how wacky, hoping to see if anything sticks so that they can continue to drag out the process. In Minnesota, Republicans are now apparently hanging their hopes on illegal votes to boost their nearly nonexistent chances of coming out on top. Or as one Democrat closely familiar with the canvass in NY-20 tells me, the latest nonsense regarding the challenge to the absentee ballot of Senator Gillibrand is "entirely characteristic of the slipshod nature of the Republican challenges in this race. There are hundreds of New Yorkers who cast lawful votes, and who are being forced to deal with the same silliness that she is."
It sure looks like Republicans are going too far in all of this. Contest one election -- even going to great lengths in such an endeavor -- and the voters might see it as legitimate. (Though do note that even the establishment media is beginning to say that "[t]he question increasingly is no longer whether Al Franken will be the next U.S. senator from Minnesota; it's when he'll be the next senator.") But contest two elections, simultaneously, and all of the sudden you look like you care less about democratic results but rather winning. And it's not really clear to me how the Republican Party shakes this label should it fully take root.