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Judge rules Senate candidate Finkenauer can’t appear on Democratic primary ballot

A judge has ruled that former Rep. Abby Finkenauer (D-Iowa) cannot appear on the Democratic primary ballot for Senate in Iowa, reversing an earlier decision that allowed the ex-congresswoman to remain on the ballot.

District Judge Scott Beattie of the 5th Judicial District of Iowa ruled on Sunday that Finkenauer’s name is not permitted to appear on the primary ballot because she did not submit enough signatures, per state law.

Finkenauer, who lost her bid for reelection in 2020, is running for the seat currently held by Sen. Chuck Grassley (R). Grassley, 88, is vying for his eighth term in the upper chamber.

Retired Navy Adm. Mike Franken and Minden City Councilman Glenn Hurst are also running for the Democratic nomination.

Iowa mandates that individuals seeking to appear on a ballot for political office submit at least 3,500 signatures from “electors,” including at least 100 signatures from 19 different counties.

After Finkenauer submitted her nomination petition to the secretary of state’s office, two registered Republicans — Kim Schmett and Leanne Pellett — filed objections, claiming that some of the signatures submitted were missing information. Schmett formerly chaired the Polk County Republicans, and Pellett is the co-chair of the Cass County Republicans, according to the Des Moines Register.

They were specifically concerned with three signature lines where the date was in question. One of the dates appeared to be incorrect, and another was blank, according to the ruling. As a result, the pair said Finkenauer did not meet the state’s requirement of at least 100 signatures from 19 counties.

The State Objections Panel ultimately denied the pair’s objections, claiming that the ex-congresswoman “substantially complied” with the law.

Beattie, however, is now reversing the panel’s decision after Schmett and Pellett required judicial review of its verdict.

“The objections to the Finkenauer petition signatures from Allamakee and Cedar County are sustained. The Finkenauer campaign has failed to submit at least 100 signatures from at least 19 counties as required by Iowa Code § 45. Ms. Finkenauer’s name shall not be included on the primary ballot for the Democratic Primary for U.S. Senate,” Beattie wrote in the ruling.

Finkenauer, in a statement to The Hill on Monday, called the new ruling a “partisan gift to the Washington Republicans.”

She said the campaign is exploring its options to fight against the judge’s decision.

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

“We are exploring all of our options to fight back hard against this meritless partisan attack, and to ensure that the voices of Iowans will be heard at the ballot box,” she added.

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