US Senate Candidate Abby Finkenauer Barred From Ballot by Iowa Judge

US Senate Candidate Abby Finkenauer Barred From Ballot by Iowa Judge
Rep. Abby Finkenauer (D-Iowa) introduces Democratic presidential candidate, former Vice President Joe Biden, in Independence, Iowa, on Jan. 3, 2020. (Stephen Maturen/Getty Images)
Zachary Stieber

A Democrat candidate hoping to challenge U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) cannot appear on the Democratic primary ballot in the Senate race, an Iowa judge ruled on April 10.

Former U.S. Rep. Abby Finkenauer’s name shall not be on the ballot because she failed to meet signature requirements, Polk County District Judge Scott Beattie said, agreeing with petitioners.

Iowa law mandates any people who want to run for the Senate collect at least 3,500 signatures, with at least 100 eligible electors being from at least 19 counties in the district.

Finkenauer collected the signatures but failed to meet the second requirement, Republicans argued.

The State Objection Panel voted 2-1 in March to reject the petition, but the Republicans appealed the vote to the courts.

Some of the signatures clearly did not have dates or had an incorrect date, petitioners said.

If the objected signatures were ruled illegal, then Finkenauer wouldn’t meet the requirements.

“The panel did not correctly interpret or apply the law in this case,” Beattie ruled, reversing the panel’s decision.

“The court takes no joy in this conclusion. This court should not be in the position to make a difference in an election, and Ms. Finkenauer and her supporters should have a chance to advance her candidacy. However, this court’s job is to sit as a referee and apply the law without passion or prejudice. It is required to rule without consideration of the politics of the day. Here the court has attempted to fulfill that role,” he added.

Finkenauer said Monday that her campaign remains confident that the signature gathering requirements were met.

“After careful review, I have decided to challenge this deeply partisan decision to the Iowa Supreme Court,” she said in a statement.

Republican Party of Iowa Chairman Jeff Kaufmann said Finkenauer’s failure to qualify for the ballot “is a complete and utter embarrassment,” adding, “Finkenauer should have spent more time collecting signatures over going to high-class dinners with D.C. elite.”

Finkenauer represented Iowa in the U.S. House of Representatives for two years, but lost in 2020 by about 10,800 votes to Rep. Ashley Hinson (R-Iowa).

Dr. Glenn Hurst, a councilman in Minden, and Mike Franken, a military veteran, are the two other Democrats vying to challenge Grassley.

The primary elections are slated to take place on June 7.

Grassley, one of the oldest members of Congress at the age of 88, is running against Iowa Sen. Jim Carlin in the Republican primary.

Grassley announced in September 2021 that he would seek an eighth term.

“Serving Iowans in the United States Senate is a tremendous honor. I’m working as hard as ever for the people of Iowa and there’s more work to do,” Grassley said in a statement at the time.