Iowa Supreme Court: Dem Senate Hopeful Will Appear on Primary Ballot

Iowa Supreme Court: Dem Senate Hopeful Will Appear on Primary Ballot Iowa Supreme Court: Dem Senate Hopeful Will Appear on Primary Ballot U.S. Rep. Abby Finkenauer, D-Iowa introduces Democratic presidential candidate, former Vice President Joe Biden, on January 3, 2020, in Independence, Iowa. (Stephen Maturen/Getty Images)

By Jay Clemons | Friday, 15 April 2022 09:39 PM

Abby Finkenauer's bid for the U.S. Senate got a final reprieve Friday when the Iowa Supreme Court ruled that her name will appear on the Democratic primary ballot in June.

The state Supreme Court's determination reverses a lower-court decision from last week, when Judge Scott Beattie ruled that certain signatures procured by Finkenauer's campaign had been improperly dated — thus rendering the contested signatures invalid.

At least momentarily.

Friday's ruling also helped Finkenauer beat this week's deadline from the Iowa secretary of state's office, since it requires time to finalize and ultimately print the ballots for June.

Why else the rush?

According to The Des Moines Register, military and overseas voters are required by law to receive ballots at least 45 days before the June 7 primary, with April 23 serving as the hard deadline.

"Today is a good day for Iowa and democracy," Finkenauer said on Friday.

"The reality is with this unanimous decision by the Iowa Supreme Court affirming that we met the requirements to be on the ballot for United States Senate that this is something, again, that is important not just for Democrats but for Republicans and independents and anybody who cares about the direction of our state and our country."

A few weeks ago, Finkenauer's campaign had originally collected 100 signatures in Iowa's Allamakee County and 101 in Cedar County.

However, Republican petitioners successfully challenged one signature in Allamakee and two in Cedar — thus dropping the official signature count below the minimum threshold of 100 for both items.

Early in the dispute between Finkenauer's camp and Iowa Republicans, a state panel sided with Finkenauer, citing the rationale of other signatures around the contested one showing similar dates.

Judge Beattie rejected that notion, though, saying election law clearly states that signatures require a "date indicating when it was signed," and that a date cannot be "inferred or extrapolated from the context."

On Friday, however, Finkenauer was rescued by a Republican-supported election law from last year, which provided specific instructions about when objections to candidates' nominating petitions will be upheld.

So, what's next for Finkenauer?

She'll compete in the June 7 Democratic primary, and from there, if victorious, Finkenauer would almost certainly encounter incumbent Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, who has been serving in his current post since 1981.

According to RealClearPolitics, a site that highlights tracking polls for midterm elections, Sen. Grassley owns an 18-point advantage over Finkenauer (Des Moines Register poll), in a hypothetical general-election battle.

Iowa has had just one U.S. senator from the Democratic side since 1981: Tom Harkin (1985-2015).

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