FL-13: Democrats To Seat Buchanan, For Now
by Chris Bowers, Fri Dec 29, 2006 at 03:21:11 PM EST
Democrats in Congress meanwhile, said they'd allow Republican Vern Buchanan to take the seat next Thursday, but with a warning that the inquiry wasn't over and that his hold on it could be temporary.
The state has certified Buchanan the winner of the District 13 race by a scant 369 votes.
Although she could appeal, the ruling Friday from Circuit Judge William Gary prevents the Jennings camp from being able to use the programming code to try to show voting machines used in Sarasota County malfunctioned. Jennings claims that an unusually large number of undervotes - ballots that didn't show a vote - recorded in the race implies the machines lost the votes.
Jennings still has a complaint filed, however, before Congress, which is the ultimate arbiter of who will fill the seat. The seat is being vacated by Rep. Katherine Harris, a Republican who unsuccessfully ran for the Senate.
"The House has the power to collect evidence and make a decision about who, if anyone, was duly elected to represent the people of the 13th district," U.S. Rep. Rush Holt, D-N.J., said Friday before the judge's ruling. Holt plans to make an official statement next week making it clear that by seating Buchanan, the House isn't forfeiting the right to reverse that decision later. This is the politically safe maneuver, designed to prevent the first few days and weeks of the Democratic Congress from being sidetracked. I worry, however, that even though Democrats have made it clear that they could reverse this decision, that by seating Buchanan they all but end any effective opposition to the legitimacy of the election in FL-13. The already difficult path for Jennings in FL-13 just became a lot more difficult.