Ex-Rep. Abby Finkenauer running for Senate in Iowa

Greg Nash

Former Rep. Abby Finkenauer (D) will run for the U.S. Senate seat currently held by Sen. Chuck Grassley (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.”

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 Trump carried. Finkenauer garnered 48.6 percent of the vote, running ahead of President Biden 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.”

“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-Cortez (D-N.Y.) and Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (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 Cotton (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 Harkin (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.

Tags Abby Finkenauer Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Charles Schumer Chuck Grassley Donald Trump Iowa Iowa Senate Race Joe Biden Tom Cotton Tom Harkin
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