Democrats may have lost a top recruit against longtime Republican Sen. Charles E. Grassley in Iowa on Monday.
Former Rep. Abby Finkenauer was kicked off the Democratic primary ballot for failing to submit the proper number of petition signatures to qualify for the race.
“This misguided, midnight ruling is an outrageous and partisan gift to the Washington Republicans who orchestrated this meritless legal action,” said Mrs. Finkenauer, who served one term in the House before losing reelection in 2020.
A district court judge in Polk County, Iowa, ruled Monday that Mrs. Finkenauer‘s campaign did not submit the required number of signatures to get on the ballot. Senate contenders in Iowa are required to submit at least 3,500 petition signatures, including 100 signatures from at least 19 of Iowa’s 99 counties.
Mrs. Finkenauer‘s campaign submitted more than 5,000 signatures, but at least a handful of those required from Iowa’s 19 counties were missing pertinent information, such as the date.
Although a state elections panel had previously ruled the signatures acceptable, Republicans challenged the validity of the petitions in court. The district judge for Polk County ruled in their favor, throwing Mrs. Finkenauer off the ballot.
“The Court takes no joy in this conclusion,” wrote Polk County District Judge Scott Beattie. “The Finkenauer campaign has failed to submit at least 100 signatures from at least 19 counties as required by Iowa [law].”
Mrs. Finkenauer is pledging to appeal the decision to the Iowa Supreme Court. The timing is problematic, however, since ballots are due to be printed and mailed to counties shortly in order to be available for the June 7 primary.
The tenuous legal battle ahead poses a blow to national Democrats who have championed Mrs. Finkenauer as their preferred candidate to run against Mr. Grassley, who is seeking an eighth consecutive term this November. Retired U.S. Navy Adm. Mike Franken also is running for the Democratic nomination.
“Abby Finkenauer is no stranger to being fired by Iowans, but she at least made it to November last time around,” said Katharine Cooksey, a spokeswoman for the National Republican Senatorial Committee.