State Supreme Court Reinstates Democratic Senate Candidate Abby Finkenauer After Signature Snafu

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Michael Ginsberg Congressional Correspondent
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Former Rep. Abby Finkenauer will be allowed to run in the Iowa Democratic Senate primary in June, the state Supreme Court ruled Friday.

The Iowa state Supreme Court unanimously threw out a lower court’s Sunday ruling that Finkenauer did not comply with a requirement that candidates gather 100 signatures from supporters in 19 counties. A county district judge had found that three signatures submitted by Finkenauer’s team were invalid, bringing her below the legal threshold in two counties.

Finkenauer is the likely favorite to take on Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley, with most polls showing a clear advantage for the incumbent. She served a single term in Congress, losing to Republican Ashley Hinson by less than three points in 2020.

“The Iowa Supreme Court’s unanimous decision today has affirmed that we are right on the law, and that we will be on the ballot for U.S. Senate. 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.

Two Republican officials moved to have Finkenauer removed from the Democratic primary ballot after three ballot petition signatures included incorrect dates. However, the state Supreme Court ruled, “The legislature did not include missing or incorrect dates as one of the grounds for sustaining an objection to a petition.” (RELATED: Bill Targeting Ex-Trump Official’s House Run Becomes Law. But There’s A Major Catch)

The State Objections Panel, consisting of two Democrats and one Republican, initially sided with Finkenauer. However, Polk County District Judge Scott Beattie sided with the Republican challengers, in a ruling that the state Supreme Court described as “carefully considered.”

Statutory interpretation is not like proving math theorems, and it is sometimes difficult to come up with a neat answer that is intellectually satisfying,” the justices wrote.