Iowa Supreme Court Restores Finkenauer to Senate Ballot
DES MOINES, Iowa — In a unanimous ruling, the Iowa Supreme Court on Friday restored Senate candidate Abby Finkenauer’s name to the Democratic primary ballot, once again making her the presumptive frontrunner to face longtime Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley.
“This is a moment for all advocates for democracy — Democrats, Republicans and independents — to celebrate the enduring strength of our democratic process and a reminder to never take it for granted,” Finkenauer said in a statement after the decision was announced.
She went on to say the court had struck a blow for “meritless partisan attacks orchestrated by Washington Republicans and allies of Sen. Grassley seeking to silence Iowans and undermine the democratic process.”
The ruling itself affirmed an earlier decision by an election panel that Finkenauer had qualified for the ballot, and rejected a later lower court ruling that found she’d failed to meet the statutory requirement that candidates submit at least 100 signatures from at least 19 counties to qualify for the ballot.
Polk County, Iowa, Judge Scott Beattie had ruled three signatures from two counties were invalid because they weren’t dated correctly, and thereby knocked Finkenauer from the ballot.
On review, the state Supreme Court acknowledged the Legislature had last year passed new sections of the law that identified specific circumstances when objections to petitions should be sustained.
But it went on to say, “the Legislature did not include missing or incorrect dates as one of the grounds for sustaining an objection to a petition. We conclude that the recent legislation prevails.”
The justices ordered the case remanded back to Judge Beattie along with an order that the Republican objectors’ petition be dismissed.
Alan Ostergren, the attorney for the objectors, took the ruling in stride, saying it’s up to the Legislature to detail everything it wants on a nominating petition and the consequences of failing to meet its criteria.
“The only reason these issues were litigated is that the Abby Finkenauer campaign failed to turn in enough signatures to have a comfortable margin — something every other political campaign was able to do this cycle,” he said.
Two Republican activists had brought the initial challenge and appealed the panel’s decision to the district court.
Finkenauer, a Cedar Rapids native, was the first woman ever elected to Congress from Iowa. She served as representative of Iowa’s 1st Congressional District from 2019 to 2021.
Her primary opponents are Mike Franken, a retired Navy admiral, and Glenn Hurst, a doctor and Minden City council member.
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