AP

Democrat Finkenauer asks Iowa justices to keep her on ballot

Apr 13, 2022, 1:52 PM | Updated: 3:48 pm

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — A lawyer for former Democratic Rep. Abby Finkenauer of Iowa asked the state Supreme Court on Wednesday to overturn a lower court judge’s ruling that kicked her off the June primary ballot, saying she deserves the chance to vie for the chance to run against Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley in November.

Finkenauer, whom many Democrats see as their best chance — albeit a remote one — to deny Grassley an eighth Senate term, turned in nearly 5,000 signatures to get on the June 7 primary ballot, but two Republicans argued before the State Objections Panel that she hadn’t submitted at least 100 from at least 19 counties, as required by a state law. They pointed to three signatures in two counties that were not properly dated.

The panel dismissed the claim, but Polk County Judge Scott Beattie, who was appointed by Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds in 2018, overruled the panel on Sunday, finding that a strict interpretation of the law means that improperly dated signatures must be discarded.

Finkenauer appealed to the state Supreme Court.

Her attorney, Gary Dickey, argued in court filings that Beattie overreached by disqualifying her. He said the state panel has long held that statutes governing nominating petitions should be liberally construed to the benefit of petition signers to provide every lawful opportunity to express their preferences at the ballot box. The panel has long used the substantial compliance policy to uphold signatures missing dates or with other mistakes for both Republicans and Democrats. It did so as recently as 2020, when it allowed a Republican congressional candidate to stay on the ballot despite a missing signature date.

“The district court’s reversal of the panel’s decision threatens to deny Iowans their right to vote for a candidate of their choice,” he said in court filings.

Dickey also argued that the two Republicans who challenged Finkenauer’s petitions have no legal standing to challenge them because they can’t vote in the Democratic primary. The argument seemed to gain some traction, as it drew several questions from the high court.

The panel’s lawyers from the state attorney general’s office argued in a brief that although one section of state law requires signatures another section regulating nomination petitions lists reasons to reject signatures, including if they are eligible or if the address is missing. Lack of a date is not listed as a reason for rejecting a signature.

“If the Legislature had intended to prevent counting of such signatures, it could have easily added such a requirement,” they wrote. “This court shouldn’t do what the Legislature has chosen not to.”

Alan Ostergren, the lawyer for the two Republicans who challenged Finkenauer’s petitions, said the panel’s substantial compliance standard has no basis in the law, has been used selectively and should be rejected by the court. He said the electoral process, like many other aspects of life, is full of rules that cannot be ignored.

“Any claimed unfairness in sustaining these objections pales in comparison to the potential unfairness to the candidates and campaigns who expended the time and resources to follow the law,” he told the high court.

He said campaigns should know that to avoid such problems they should obtain many more signatures than needed, as recommended by the secretary of state.

“A candidate ignores this advice at her peril,” he said.

The high court didn’t say when it might rule, but it is expected to do so soon because ballots must be sent to printers by Monday to meet a legal deadline to mail ballots to Iowa residents living abroad.

The winner of the primary will face Grassley, who is seeking an eighth Senate term.

Finkenauer, who served one term in the U.S. House from 2019-2021, wants to be on the ballot with Democrats Mike Franken, a retired Navy admiral, and Glenn Hurst, a doctor and Minden City Council member.

Finkenauer said in a telephone interview that she felt positive leaving the court hearing that she is on the right side of the law and if the Supreme Court follows the law, she’ll be on the June ballot. She said GOP officials are trying to knock her off the ballot now because “they are so terrified they cannot beat me in November” but it’s bigger than just her campaign.

“This is about democracy. This, quite frankly, is why I ran for Senate in the first place because I worried about the direction of the country. You have people so far in their corners who will do anything to try to get elected,” she said. “This is one of the nastiest things I have seen where they would spend thousands and thousands of dollars trying to make up new rules to kick somebody off. It is something that we should all be concerned about. I don’t care who you are, Democrat or Republican or Independent. This is an alarming situation for our entire country.”

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

American Airlines put an unspecified number of employees on leave for their involvement in an incid...

Associated Press

American Airlines CEO calls removal of Black passengers from Phoenix flight ‘unacceptable’

American Airlines put an unspecified number of employees on leave for their involvement in an incident in which several Black passengers were removed from a flight in Phoenix.

3 days ago

FILE - Crystal Baziel holds the Pan-African flag Monday, June 19, 2023, during Reedy Chapel A.M.E C...

Associated Press

The beginner’s guide to celebrating Juneteenth

For more than one-and-a-half centuries, the Juneteenth holiday has been sacred to many Black communities. It marks the day in 1865 enslaved people in Galveston, Texas found out they had been freed — after the end of the Civil War, and two years after President Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation. Since it was designated a federal […]

5 days ago

A Boeing 737 Max suffered damage to parts of the plane's structure after it went into a “Dutch ro...

Associated Press

Plane that did ‘Dutch roll’ on flight from Phoenix suffered structural damage, investigators say

A Boeing 737 Max suffered damage to parts of the plane's structure after it went into a “Dutch roll” during a flight from Phoenix last month.

10 days ago

This photo provided by Randy Shannon shows Mooney Falls on the Havasupai reservation outside the vi...

Associated Press

Dozens report illness after trips to waterfalls near Grand Canyon

Dozens of hikers say they fell ill during trips to a popular Arizona tourist destination that features towering blue-green waterfalls deep in a gorge neighboring Grand Canyon National Park.

10 days ago

Mugshot of Rudy Giuliani, who was processed Monday, June 10, 2024, in the Arizona fake electors cas...

Associated Press

Rudy Giuliani posts $10K cash bond after being processed in Arizona fake electors case

Rudy Giuliani, a former New York City mayor and Donald Trump attorney, was processed Monday in the Arizona fake electors case.

13 days ago

FILE - White House former chief of staff Mark Meadows speaks with reporters at the White House, Wed...

Associated Press

Former Trump chief of staff Mark Meadows pleads not guilty in Arizona fake elector case

Former Donald Trump presidential chief of staff Mark Meadows and Trump 2020 Election Day operations director Michael Roman pleaded not guilty Friday in Phoenix to nine felony charges for their roles in an effort to overturn Trump's Arizona election loss to Joe Biden.

17 days ago

Sponsored Articles

...

Sanderson Ford

3 new rides for 3 new road trips in Arizona

It's time for the Sanderson Ford Memorial Day sale with the Mighty Fine 69 Anniversary, as Sanderson Ford turned 69 years old in May.

...

Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Beat the heat, ensure your AC unit is summer-ready

With temperatures starting to rise across the Valley, now is a great time to be sure your AC unit is ready to withstand the sweltering summer heat.

...

Collins Comfort Masters

Here’s 1 way to ensure your family is drinking safe water

Water is maybe one of the most important resources in our lives, and especially if you have kids, you want them to have access to safe water.

Democrat Finkenauer asks Iowa justices to keep her on ballot