Democrat Finkenauer canceled US Senate primary ballot
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — A state court judge has ruled that Democrat Abby Finkenauer can’t run in Iowa’s June 7 primary ballot for U.S. Senate because she didn’t not garnering enough petition signatures, which could bring down the candidate seen by many as the party’s best chance of ousting Republican U.S. Senator Charles Grassley.
Judge Scott Beattie, appointed in 2018 by Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds, filed a ruling on Sunday night that overturned a ruling by a three-member state-elected panel. The panel concluded last week that Finkenauer’s campaign staffers largely complied with Iowa law that requires candidates to obtain 3,500 names, including at least 100 signatures from at least 19 counties.
Finkenauer plans to appeal the ruling, and the Iowa Supreme Court has scheduled a hearing for Wednesday with a promise to rule on the matter by the end of the week to meet deadlines for mailing ballots to voters. foreign voters.
Two Republicans arrested Finkenauer’s petition papers, indicating that signatures from at least two counties were missing the required date.
In the past, the panel, which includes the secretary of state, attorney general and state auditor, has found that petitions largely complied with the law, although signatures were missing or difficult to interpret. . Attorney General Tom Miller and Auditor Rob Sand, both Democrats, voted to allow Finkenauer’s petitions citing past precedents for deferring to campaigns that used proper forms and worked to comply with the law. Secretary of State Paul Pate, a Republican, voted against Finkenauer’s petition.
Kim Schmett and Leanne Pellett, former Republican county election officials, challenged the signatures and then filed an appeal against the Iowa opposition committee’s decision last week.
Beattie concluded that the panel’s legal interpretation was wrong and that the law clearly states that every signature must be accompanied by a date. His ruling removed the signatures of Allamakee and Cedar counties from Finkenauer’s nomination petitions, meaning his campaign failed to submit at least 100 signatures from at least 19 counties as required.
Beattie said he took no joy in the decision.
“This tribunal should not be able to make a difference in an election, and Ms Finkenauer and her supporters should be given a chance to advance her candidacy. However, the job of this court is to sit as an arbiter and apply the law without passion or prejudice. He is bound to govern regardless of the politics of the day. Here the court has tried to fulfill that role,” he said,
Finkenauer accused Beattie of bidding on Grassley and his Washington allies.
“This flawed midnight decision is an outrageous and partisan giveaway to the Republicans in Washington who orchestrated this baseless lawsuit,” she said. “We are exploring all of our options to combat this meritless partisan attack and to ensure the voice of Iowans is heard at the ballot box.”
Finkenauer said her petitions have more than 5,000 signatures and she is confident she has met the requirements to be on the ballot.
Beattie promised last week that he would file a decision by midnight Sunday to give each side time to appeal to the Iowa Supreme Court. He filed the decision at 10:49 p.m. Sunday. Pate said he needed to know if Finkenauer qualified for the ballot by Friday to give him time to have ballots printed and mailed to overseas voters who need to get their ballots by April 23. to comply with the law.
Finkenauer, who served one term in the U.S. House from 2019 to 2021, is looking to be on the ballot with Democrats Mike Franken, retired Navy Admiral, and Glenn Hurst, physician and Minden City Council member. The main winner will face Grassley, who is seeking an eighth term in the Senate.
Federal fundraising data and statewide polls indicate that Grassley, who turns 89 in September, is well-positioned to keep the seat he has held since 1981 for another six years.
Grassley raised over $4.7 million, Finkenauer around $1.9 million, and Franken $1.8 million. Hurst raised just over $66,000. Republican Sen. Jim Carlin, who will be on the Republican primary ballot opposite Grassley, raised $282,151.
The Des Moines Register / Medicom poll released in November gave Grassley an 18 percentage point lead over Finkenauer.
Alan R. Ostergren, attorney for Schmett and Pellett, said the judge’s decision is a victory for the rule of law.
“Iowans expect candidates to abide by state law and follow the same rules as the hundreds of other candidates who have successfully qualified to be on the ballot,” he said. said in a statement. “Anyone who has ever participated in a political campaign knows that it is easy to avoid problems by submitting more than the minimum number of signatures. Abby Finkenauer didn’t for some reason and was taken aback.