HARRISBURG, Pa. (KDKA) – A federal judge ruled on Tuesday that certain mail-in ballots were lawfully counted in Allegheny County, rejecting the claims of a Republican challenger to Pennsylvania Senator Jim Brewster of McKeesport.
Last week, the Republican-controlled state Senate refused to seat Brewster, a Democrat.
The refusal of Senate Republicans to allow Brewster to take the Oath of Office led to a raucous scene on the Senate floor with the temporary ouster of Lt. Gov. John Fetterman as the presiding officer.
While President Pro Tempore, Pa. Sen. Jake Corman, a Republican, was announcing a 14 to 11 vote to remove Fetterman from the chair, Fetterman shouted repeatedly, “The chair will not cede the rostrum.”
Now a victory in federal court paves the way for Brewster’s swearing-in.
“They ruled on the merit of the case, and they ruled in our favor. I’m hoping it’s just a matter now of figuring out logistically of how we can do the swearing-in as quick as possible,” Brewster told KDKA political editor Jon Delano Tuesday afternoon.
Judge Nicholas Ranjan, a Trump appointee, rejected the claims of Republican Nicole Ziccarelli that undated mail-in ballots should not be counted, noting, “The court finds that the Supreme Court expressly held that the undated ballots at issue remain valid ballots that are properly counted under state law.”
Last Friday, Corman, who led the effort to deny Democrat Brewster his seat, tweeted that he would follow the judge’s lead, noting, “If they rule ballots should count, we will seat Senator Brewster immediately.”
“I’m prepared to drive to Harrisburg right now,” says Brewster.
True to his word on Twitter, Corman now says Brewster will be sworn in at 11 a.m. on Wednesday.
“Although I disagree with some of the decisions that have been made by the Supreme Court and the federal court, we respect the rule of law. The courts have ruled. Senator Brewster has been declared the winner and we need to swear him in immediately,” said Corman.
Corman acknowledges his refusal to seat Brewster last week was controversial.
Delano: “Do you regret any of this?”
Corman: “No. We did the right thing. Again, we wanted to get it right, not fast.”
Ziccarelli now says she wishes Brewster well when he takes the Oath of Office.