Leading Democratic challenger to Chuck Grassley can no longer compete in primary

The leading Democratic challenger to unseat Iowa’s longtime Republican senator Chuck Grassley has not qualified for a rapidly approaching primary, a judge has found. 

The district court found Monday that former Rep. Abby Finkenauer failed to submit enough petitions, The Washington Times reported.

Democratic challenger disqualified

To qualify, Finkenauer had to get 3,500 signatures, with at least 100 of those coming from 19 out of Iowa’s 99 counties. Although she got 5,000 signatures, she failed to get the 100 signatures she needed from 99 different counties.

Some of the signatures were invalid because they lacked lawfully required information, like the date. A state panel sided with Finkenauer, but a district court judge in Polk County, Scott Beattie, disagreed, saying he took “no joy” in the finding.

“The Court takes no joy in this conclusion,” wrote Beattie. “The Finkenauer campaign has failed to submit at least 100 signatures from at least 19 counties as required by Iowa [law].”

Of course, Democrats are fuming over the court’s decision, with Finkenauer blasting it as nothing more than a partisan ploy.

“This misguided, midnight ruling is an outrageous and partisan gift to the Washington Republicans who orchestrated this meritless legal action,” she said.

“Utter embarrassment”

The 33-year-old was elected to the House of Representatives in 2018 but lost re-election in 2020. Although Grassley’s seat is not particularly competitive, Finkenauer was seen by Democrats as their strongest contender in the upcoming June primary, the Washington Times noted.

Judging from the failure of her petition, however, Finkenauer may not have been much of a formidable candidate after all, as Republicans were happy to point out.

“The severe lack of enthusiasm behind Iowa Democrats has real consequences and the first victim to fall is Abby Finkenauer,” said Iowa GOP Chairman Jeff Kauffmann. “Not qualifying for the ballot is a complete and utter embarrassment.”

Finkenauer is appealing to the Supreme Court, but she doesn’t have much time to rectify the problem, with the state demanding to know who will be on the ballot by Friday.

Her failure to qualify will likely make an already tough Senate map for Democrats even trickier, with Democrats expected to lose one, if not both, houses of Congress this November as punishing inflation and violent crime continue to bring down the standard of living for the average American.

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