Finkenauer attorney asks Iowa Supreme Court to return him

The court’s decision, expected by the end of the week, will determine the fate of the campaign of the former congresswoman, whom most Democrats see as their strongest challenger to Republican Senator Chuck Grassley. The longtime senator has been seeking an eighth term this fall.

A pair of Republicans challenged Fincanauer’s candidacy, arguing that it did not meet the state’s signature requirements—3,500 valid signatures, including at least 100 signatures from at least 19 counties—because three There were no dates in the signatures.

The Iowa Objection Panel, a three-member board consisting of the state’s attorney general and auditors, both a Democrat, and the secretary of state, a Republican, voted 2-1 across party lines to put Fincanauer on the ballot. But late Sunday, Judge Scott Beatty, appointed by Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds, ruled that she had fallen short of state requirements and could not appear on the primary ballot.

The seven-member state Supreme Court heard oral arguments in the matter on Wednesday, but did not raise its hand. Several judges appeared to adopt the legal arguments put forth by Fincanauer’s attorney and the state attorney general’s office. Other Republicans seemed to favor the plaintiffs.

Finkenauer’s attorney, Gary Dickey, argued that the two Republicans challenging Finkenauer’s petition signatures did not stand because they were not running against him and would not be allowed to vote in Iowa’s Democratic primary unless they were registered Democrats. do not become

He noted that the state legislature has waived the Iowa objection panel for decades to allow some undated signatures and noted that the dates of the signature in question can be ascertained by other signatures on the same page — collected on the same day. .

Sam Langholz, an attorney in the Iowa attorney general’s office who represented the state objection panel, who sided with Fincanauer, argued that while state law instructs candidates to collect dates as part of the petition process, That is, the law does not require direct signatures to be drawn up dates that are missing.

He pointed to changes in election law approved by state lawmakers in recent decades – including listing other reasons for the petition to be signed – and said the legislature would have made it abundantly clear that they would sign. Intend to eliminate missing dates for. ,

Alan Ostergren, an attorney representing Republicans seeking to remove Finkenauer from the ballot, argued that anyone who can vote in the general election stands to challenge the signature. He said he cannot think of other scenarios under Iowa law in which something is required but there are no consequences for failing to comply with that requirement.

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Several judges pressed Ostergren whether there were differences between a mandate, which the objection panel would have no ability to ignore, and a directive. One asked them to consider a scenario in which a candidate turned in paperwork that was missing a paperclip or staple and therefore did not fulfill the instruction to tie it together.

Ostergren also pointed to Iowa’s secretary of state’s guidance for candidates that they should collect large numbers of signatures, knowing that some will not be counted.

The state’s Supreme Court is expected to issue a decision by the end of this week for election officials to begin printing ballots to be sent to overseas voters ahead of the June 7 primary.

If Fincanauer’s challenge is unsuccessful, she could run in the primary as a write-in candidate. This may be complicated by the fact that although Finkenauer, who represents northeast Iowa in the US House, has been the Democratic front-runner to take on Grassley, he is running against two others in the primary: Glenn Hurst, a borough. Council members in Minden, Iowa and Mike Franken, a retired Navy admiral who ran for the state’s other Senate seat in 2020.

CNN’s Dan Merica and Ethan Cohen contributed to this report.

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