Ex-Rep. Abby Finkenauer running for Senate in Iowa

Ex-Rep. Abby Finkenauer running for Senate in Iowa
© Greg Nash

Former Rep. Abby FinkenauerAbby Lea FinkenauerCotton to stump for Iowa GOP candidate amid 2024 speculation Axne endorses Finkenauer Senate bid in Iowa 'Blue wave' Democrats eye comebacks after losing reelection MORE (D) will run for the U.S. Senate seat currently held by Sen. Chuck GrassleyChuck GrassleyGrassley calls for federal prosecutor to probe botched FBI Nassar investigation Woman allegedly abused by Nassar after he was reported to FBI: 'I should not be here' Democrat rips Justice for not appearing at US gymnastics hearing MORE (R-Iowa), the first major Democrat to say she will contend for a seat that the party has not won since more than a decade before she was born.

In an interview with the Des Moines Register published Thursday morning, Finkenauer said she had been moved to run by the Jan. 6 insurrection at the Capitol, which she watched on television as a newly jobless former member of Congress.

“On 1/6 the world changed, and so did I,” Finkenauer told the paper. “I remember sitting on my couch in Cedar Rapids with my husband as we were watching my former colleagues and my friends get attacked in the United States Capitol. … That violent mob, that insurrection, was happening because our country and people were fed misinformation and lies about our elections and democracy, and our senators didn’t push back.”

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Finkenauer will kick off her campaign with an event in Dubuque on Thursday, before heading across the state to Waterloo, Des Moines, Sioux City, Council Bluffs, Jefferson and Cedar Rapids in the coming days.

Finkenauer, who served a term representing her northwest Iowa district, was the second-youngest woman in the House Democratic freshman class elected in 2018. At 32, she would be the youngest senator to serve if she wins election.

She emerged as a strong fundraiser, pulling in more than $5.9 million in her 2020 reelection.

Finkenauer beat then-Rep. Rod Blum (R) in the 2018 midterm election. But two years later, she lost her bid for reelection to Rep. Ashley Hinson (R) in a district former President TrumpDonald TrumpCapitol fencing starts coming down after 'Justice for J6' rally Netanyahu suggests Biden fell asleep in meeting with Israeli PM Aides try to keep Biden away from unscripted events or long interviews, book claims MORE carried. Finkenauer garnered 48.6 percent of the vote, running ahead of President BidenJoe BidenCapitol fencing starts coming down after 'Justice for J6' rally Senate parliamentarian nixes Democrats' immigration plan Biden pushes back at Democrats on taxes MORE by more than a full percentage point.

Iowa Republican Party Chair Jeff Kaufmann said Thursday that Finkenauer would "never represent the state of Iowa in the U.S. Senate."

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“Iowans know Finkenauer and her disastrous record, it's why they rejected her last November," Kaufmann said in a statement, saying Finkenauer's values and priorities are the same as those of Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-CortezAlexandria Ocasio-CortezMcCarthy on Dems' spending bill: 'The amount of money we spent to win World War II' On The Money — Presented by Wells Fargo — Pelosi plows full speed ahead on jam-packed agenda Photos of the Week: Renewable energy, gymnast testimonies and a Met Gala dress MORE (D-N.Y.) and Senate Majority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerBiden discusses agenda with Schumer, Pelosi ahead of pivotal week CEOs urge Congress to raise debt limit or risk 'avoidable crisis' If .5 trillion 'infrastructure' bill fails, it's bye-bye for an increasingly unpopular Biden MORE (D-N.Y.).

Grassley, 87, has not said whether he will run for an eighth term in office next year. He has delayed a public announcement, though he made a point of doing pushups at a recent event with Sen. Tom CottonTom Bryant CottonOvernight Defense & National Security — Milley becomes lightning rod Joint Chiefs Chairman Milley becomes lightning rod on right Overnight Energy & Environment — Presented by Climate Power — Senate Democrats ding Biden energy proposal MORE (R-Ark.) to demonstrate his fitness.

Grassley easily won reelection in 2016, by a 24-point margin over former Lt. Gov. Patty Judge (D). Trump carried Iowa’s electoral votes by an 8-point margin, scoring more votes and a higher share of the total vote than he had in 2016 in a sign that Iowa is becoming an increasingly conservative state.

And Iowa Democrats have been shut out of U.S. Senate elections since 2008, when then-Sen. Tom HarkinThomas (Tom) Richard HarkinFCC needs to help services for the deaf catch up to videoconferencing tech Biden celebrates anniversary of Americans with Disabilities Act Ex-Rep. Abby Finkenauer running for Senate in Iowa MORE (D) won his last six-year term in office.

But Democrats can win statewide in Iowa: Three of the seven statewide elected officials there — attorney general, state auditor and state treasurer — are Democrats.