Has there been “large scale voter fraud” in a California House race? That claim by the tea bagger candidate in the race appeared about 11 paragraphs down in a Huffington Post story about a hypocritical abuse of power by leaders of the Tea Party Patriots group yesterday.
Votes are still being counted in California’s 11th District, but the incumbent Democrat, Rep. Jerry McNerney, is leading and has declared victory and is back in Washington for the lame-duck session.
His opponent, David Harmer, made the allegation in a conversation with someone highly placed in the TPP leadership, who reported it in an email blast to TPP members:
[We] had a long call with David Harmer from California tonight. He is in a recount, and is dealing with the results of what appears to be large scale voter fraud, and may not win his office. [Emphasis added: There is no recount, although some sources say Harmer will call for one.]
Harmer — the son of Gov. Ronald Reagan’s lieutenant governor — raised his national profile during the campaign with his headline-grabbing call for abolishing the United States public school system. This off-the-wall position established him as a crackpot on the order of GOP candidates Rand Paul, Sharron Angle and Christine O’Donnell and brought Harmer to the attention of tea party types.
A quick scan of local news outlets in the district turns up no other allegations of voter fraud by Harmer or anyone else. All the reports lay out the status of the race like this:
Most political experts view [McNerney’s] 1,757-vote margin over Harmer as slim but sufficient to keep him [in Washington].
With an estimated 4,500 to 5,000 ballots left to count in a race where the votes of several hundred thousand people have been tallied, McNerney’s lead — 0.75 percent of the total vote — is statistically unlikely to shift.
“If you are looking for a change of more than one-half of one percent of the vote, it’s going to be pretty tough,” said San Joaquin County Registrar of Voters Austin Erdman. Slightly more than half of the 11th District’s registered voters live in his county.
Harmer received donations from Washington-based groups and endorsements from national Republican politicians, including, oddly enough, GOP-Fox television personality Mike Huckabee. This is strange because Harmer is a Mormon, and during his 2008 presidential run, Huckabee described the Mormon Church as a “Satanic cult.” (Harmer was also endorsed by Fox News “analyst” Dick Morris, the political operative who became a professional Clinton-hater after the Clintons fired him when his long-term affair with a prostitute was revealed.)
Harmer’s allegation of fraud was buried about 11 paragraphs down in a Huffington Post story about a hypocritical abuse of power, coupled with grand, GOP-style incompetence, by leaders of the Tea Party Patriots, who took the unusual, even outrageous — and yet strangely unsurprising — step of publishing the personal contact information for nearly 100 House freshman in a mass email to tea baggers nationwide.
TPP leaders sent the email after they discovered they had inadvertently scheduled an indoctrination session for incoming House Republican freshman earlier this week that conflicted with an event sponsored by the Claremont Institute, a right-wing establishment “think” tank.
Rather than admit their mistake and reschedule their event, TPP leaders chose to send out the email blast to their followers providing them with with the new House members’ personal contact info and urging them to call the new members and browbeat them into skipping the Claremont event in favor of the tea bag session.
It remains to be seen how TPP’s decision to bombard the new House members with hundreds of crank calls and emails from rage-addicted half-wits will affect Republicans’ alignment with the tea party “movement.” However, TPP’s thuggish abuse of power looks almost trivial in comparison with its amateur sloppiness in failing to vet its lists — a failure that resulted in TPP’s inadvertent publishing of personal contact info for candidates, including Harmer, who had not actually won their seats.
Harmer’s allegation about voter fraud came in the text of yet another email blast from TPP leaders under the headline “Please stop calling and emailing – You Have Been Heard!”
Throwing around baseless charges of voter fraud is a sign of desperation. It is unclear whether Harmer intended to go public with his allegations now or if he mentioned them in confidence. If the latter, TPP may have caused trouble for David Harmer he did not want or need.