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Former Rep. Abby Finkenauer loses bid to challenge Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley

Former Rep. Abby Finkenauer, D-Iowa, lost her bid for the Democratic nomination for U.S. Senate to Michael Franken Tuesday in a setback for large Democratic groups who backed her candidacy.

The Associated Press called Franken as the winner of the Democratic nomination to challenge Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, in the November midterm election. Franken had 57% of the vote to Finkenauer’s 38% when the AP called the race.

Finkenauer’s defeat is seen as a setback for the Democratic establishment.

While the former congresswoman enjoyed the backing of such national progressive groups as EMILY’s List and the League of Conservation Voters, Franken racked up local endorsements, including the support from more than a dozen state Democratic lawmakers.

Finkenauer won election to Congress in the 2018 midterm elections, as the Democrats rode a blue wave to retake the House majority. But two years ago, she narrowly lost her bid for a second term.
She launched a Senate bid last summer, aiming to challenge longtime GOP Sen. Chuck Grassley in the general election. But earlier this year she almost didn’t make the primary ballot, after a pair of Republican activists challenged her nominating petitions. The Iowa Supreme Court eventually ruled in Finkenauer’s favor.

Franken served in the military for nearly four decades before returning to Iowa ahead of the 2020 election. He launched an unsuccessful campaign for the Democratic Senate nomination that cycle, before making a second run for the Senate in the 2022 cycle.

He decided to run for Grassley’s seat after the Jan. 6, 2021 riot at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. 

“Having worked overseas and defended the American way of life and worked for this country so hard, I thought as life becomes more compressed over the age of 60, things that you do are more meaningful,” Franken said. “I can’t think of anything more meaningful than to provide my expertise to maintain democracy in this country, because I saw it under threat.”

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