Rep. Underwood, with Jim Oberweis challenge dismissed, urges Republicans to live as ‘though the truth were true’

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Rep. Lauren Underwood, an Illinois Democrat, said in a House floor speech Wednesday that GOP rival Jim Oberweis “joined the former president in making baseless allegations of fraud and conspiracy” in their election.
Rep. Lauren Underwood, an Illinois Democrat, said in a House floor speech Wednesday that GOP rival Jim Oberweis “joined the former president in making baseless allegations of fraud and conspiracy” in their election. | CSPAN screen capture

Underwood, an Illinois Democrat, said GOP rival Jim Oberweis “joined the former president in making baseless allegations of fraud and conspiracy,” in their election.

WASHINGTON — A week after the House threw out the bid of Jim Oberweis to overturn her election, Rep. Lauren Underwood, in a House floor speech Wednesday, declared his baseless challenge a local battle in the ongoing nationwide war on truth.

“I am not here to take a victory lap,” said Underwood, who did not say the name of Jim Oberweis or Donald Trump in her remarks.

“…Much like the previous president, my opponent ignored voters’ voices by declaring himself the winner days before the results were in. Once the votes had been tallied, he again joined the former president in making baseless allegations of fraud and conspiracy,” said Underwood.

As I write this Wednesday, Republican Oberweis, a former state senator, has yet to concede to Underwood, a Democrat who won a second term to represent the 14th Congressional District by 5,347 votes.

Last November, Oberweis viewed the Underwood 50.67% win over his 49.33% vote narrow enough to poke around and see if a partial recount — to which he was entitled — could reverse the results.

The discovery recount did not turn up evidence there were 5,347 or more votes improperly cast.

Still, Oberweis traveled to Washington to take part in freshman orientation. Though it might seem weird that he did that, House rules allow folks in contested elections to attend orientation just in case of a reversal.

Underwood’s election was certified by the state of Illinois.

And, then, as his right, Oberweis asked the House to void Underwood’s victory, since House members have the “constitutionally-vested” power to resolve their own elections.

Handling contested elections is the job of the House Administration Committee, where Illinois GOP Rep. Rodney Davis is the ranking Republican and California Democratic Rep. Zoe Lofgren is the chair.

The committee last month, in a unanimous vote, agreed to dismiss the Oberweis request that the House order that all vote-by-mail ballots cast in the election be invalidated and that he deserved a recount or, in the alternative, deem the November 3 election ‘‘null and void’’ and order a new election.

The decision of the House panel to dismiss was upheld in a House vote May 12.

Oberweis claimed victory with his central argument being that all the 39,647 Kane County mail ballots should not be counted, claiming they were not properly initialed by election judges.

If all the Kane County mail ballots were erased — then Oberweis would have won. If this theory sounds Trumpian, it is.

Ex-President Donald Trump blames mail ballots for his defeat, and in a show of the power he still has on the Republican Party, a string of red states this year have slapped restrictions on mail voting.

Though the Democrats and the Republicans on the House Administration Committee came to the same conclusion — to dismiss the Oberweis request to cancel Underwood’s victory — the reasoning was different. Davis wrote a minority opinion.

Besides wanting to delete the Kane County mail votes, Oberweis also asserted a variety of violations of Illinois election law. He did not submit proof that there were enough — more than 5,347 credible problems — to change the outcome.

The Democratic-authored analysis concluded Oberweis did not “credibly allege that a sufficient number of votes are in contention to place the result of the election in question.”

Oberweis, the Democratic analysis noted, never alleged the intent of the mail voters was not clear. As for the Oberweis allegations of fraud and other irregularities, even if his claims were valid, there weren’t enough of them to change the outcome.

Davis, in his minority analysis, did not go down the path Democrats took while agreeing with the dismissal.

The Oberweis bid should be dismissed because Oberweis did not properly serve Underwood, Davis wrote. Others contesting the November election results were able to properly follow the rules, Davis noted.

With Illinois losing a Congressional seat in 2024 — and Democrats intent on making sure Republicans take the hit — Davis may run for governor or the Senate. Relying on a procedural reason for dismissing the Oberweis claim may help Davis avoid political retribution from Illinois Trump Republicans, of which there are many.

“The reality is” Underwood said, “that Americans chose Democrats to lead the House, the Senate, and the White House. … There are people — like my erstwhile opponent, the former president and far too many others in positions of great responsibility — who refuse to face this reality.”

Said Underwood, “I urge all my colleagues to join me in rejecting these attacks on our democracy by living as though the truth were true.”

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May 19, 2021 at 08:39PM

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