Iowa Democratic candidate allowed back on primary ballot after signature challenge

Iowa Democratic Senate candidate and former Rep. Abby Finkenauer has been allowed back on the primary ballot after she was removed for having insufficient signatures in at least two counties.

The Iowa Supreme Court ruled on Sunday that Finkenauer could remain on the ballot after a county district judge ruled last week that she should be removed because three of her signatures had invalid dates.

Candidates for Senate need at least 100 signatures from each of 19 counties in order to get on the ballot, and the incorrect dates put Finkenauer below the threshold in two counties.

Finkenauer will likely win the Democrat nomination for the Senate seat and challenge longtime Sen. Chuck Grassley (R) in November.

Democratic process

“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 noted in a statement.

The state court ruled that incorrect dates were not grounds to object to someone’s Senate candidacy.

“The legislature did not include missing or incorrect dates as one of the grounds for sustaining an objection to a petition,” the ruling read.

The primary will be held June 7 with absentee voting starting May 18.

Difficult decision

“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.

In other words, it wouldn’t really be fair to toss Finkenauer on a technicality, just because people who signed her petitions didn’t put the right date on the form.

While Finkenauer is the Democrats’ best hope of unseating Grassley, it is still an uphill battle for them.

Grassley is popular in the state, and this election is expected to be particularly strong for Republicans compared to others in recent years.

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