Pennsylvania's Lieutenant Governor John Fetterman was temporarily forced out of presiding over the state Senate Tuesday as tempers erupted and Republicans sought to block a newly-elected Democrat from being sworn-in because his election is being challenged by his GOP opponent.
Jim Brewster won his election to the 45th district by 69 votes and his win has been certified by the state. However his Republican challenger Nicole Ziccarelli is contesting the win because she and her supporters want 311 mail-in ballots thrown out that had missing dates on the outside envelopes. The 45th senatorial district includes parts of Allegheny and Westmoreland counties.
"The Republicans believe the election is not over yet. We clearly believe that I won the election. There's no doubt about that. A number of different court renderings have said that," said Brewster to FOX43, who later added "the courts have ruled that they must be counted."
"We thought in fairness to both Sen. Brewster and Nicole Ziccarelli that we not seat anyone and let the members the time to make the best decision moving forward," said Republican Sen. Jake Corman, President Pro Tempore.
Democrats objected to Republicans blocking Brewster's swearing in ceremony as they noted the recent court ruling and the fact that the results have been certified. That is when tempers began to flare as Republicans voted to temporarily oust Lieutenant Governor John Fetterman from presiding over the Senate for blocking their efforts to stop Brewster's swearing-in to the Senate. The Senate then proceeded to swear in other members but not Brewster, leaving the future and representation of the 45th district in limbo.
"We are in a dangerous time now politically as a country when one party is acting as if they are entitled to acknowledge who wins and who loses and who gets seated or not," said Fetterman to FOX43.
Fetterman claimed even if court cases would go against Sen. Brewster, Brewster would have willingly stepped aside to allow his opponent to be seated.
He once again contested any accusations that the elections in Pennsylvania were not fair and accurate.
"The truth of the matter is even though the President lost in Pennsylvania, the Democrats fared terribly down the ballot," he said, noting that a challenge to the election results would also challenge Republican wins in the state.
Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar did release guidance in September saying “a ballot-return envelope with a declaration that is not filled out, dated, and signed is not sufficient and must be set aside, declared void and may not be counted.” However, the Pa Supreme Court ruled in November, that an un-dated ballot may be counted.
Corman said in a press release "Ziccarelli’s position is that Pennsylvania election law is entirely clear that voters must sign and date their mail-in ballot to be counted.. She argues that a bipartisan coalition of legislators and Governor Wolf agreed on this important integrity and anti-fraud provision, and that his Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar provided clear and consistent instructions to county election boards.”