Iowa Supreme Court rules unanimously in favor of Dem Senate candidate Finkenauer following challenge to petition signatures

It appeared last month that Rep. Abby Finkenauer (D-IA), the front-running Democratic candidate to challenge incumbent Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) in November, had fallen just short of the requirements to be included on the June primary ballot to win her party’s nomination.

The Iowa Supreme Court just unanimously overruled a lower court’s determination that Finkenauer was ineligible and restored the candidate to the ballot for the primary elections, The Hill reported.

Petition signatures challenged

At issue, in this case, were apparent deficiencies with a handful of petition signatures needed by Rep. Finkenauer to attain eligibility for the primary ballot that had been raised by a pair of registered Republicans in March.

Specifically, there were objections to three signatures that either had no date or an incorrect date, the exclusion of which would just barely render the congresswoman ineligible for inclusion on the ballot.

Finkenauer had obtained around 5,000 signatures from across the state, more than the 3,500 minimum, but would have fallen short of a separate requirement that those signatures include at least 100 signatures from at least 19 counties if the three challenged signatures had been excluded from the total.

High court sides with Democratic congresswoman

According to local NBC affiliate WHO13, the State Objections Panel had sided with Finkenauer and dismissed the challenge, prompting the challengers to take the issue to court where a Polk County district judge ruled against the congresswoman and declared her to be ineligible for the ballot due to the deficient signatures.

Both the panel and Finkenauer’s campaign appealed the matter to the state’s Supreme Court, which issued a 12-page ruling on Friday that overruled the lower court and restored the candidate’s eligibility.

The justices essentially stated that even though a dated signature was listed as a requirement for petitions, an incorrect or missing date was not denoted in the relevant statutes as a reason to disqualify a signature.

A victory now but a likely loss in November

WHO13 shared a lengthy statement from Rep. Finkenauer heralding the Iowa Supreme Court’s ruling in her favor and said, in part, “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.”

The Iowa GOP saw things differently, obviously, as evidenced by a statement issued after the ruling by state party chairman Jeff Kaufman, who acknowledged, “The Iowa Supreme Court has made their ruling and Finkenauer will remain on the primary ballot.”

That said, “No matter which way the court ruled, Finkenauer will never be a U.S. Senator from Iowa. Iowans saw everything they needed to see in Finkenauer’s effort to get on the ballot. For someone who claims to have a strong campaign, she could barely could barely (sic) reach the minimum requirement for petition signatures.”

The Hill noted that while Finkenauer is the clear favorite to win the Democratic nomination to run for Senate, Sen. Grassley maintains a substantial double-digit lead over her in all of the polls and is heavily favored to win re-election in the increasingly red-leaning state.

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