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Iowa Supreme Court rules Democratic Senate candidate Abby Finkenauer qualifies for primary ballot

The court’s decision makes Finkenauer the Democratic front-runner in the primary. The winner of that race will take on longtime Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley in November.

Polk County District Judge Scott Beattie ruled earlier this week that Finkenauer’s name “shall not be included on the primary ballot for the Democratic Primary for U.S. Senate” because of questions about signatures she received in two counties. The Finkenauer campaign appealed that ruling to the Supreme Court.

“We reverse the judgment of the district court and direct that the petition be dismissed,” the Supreme Court ruling read.

Finkenaur celebrated the decision on Friday.

“The Iowa Supreme Court’s unanimous decision today has affirmed that we are right on the law, and that we will be on the ballot for U.S. Senate,” she said. “This is a moment for all advocates for democracy — Democrats, Republicans, and Independents — to celebrate the enduring strength of our democratic process and a reminder to never take it for granted.”

A pair of Republicans had challenged Finkenauer’s candidacy, arguing that she had fallen short of the state’s signature requirement — 3,500 valid signatures, including at least 100 signatures from at least 19 counties — because three signatures did not have dates.

The Iowa Objection Panel, a three-member board that includes the Democratic state attorney general and auditor and the Republican secretary of state, voted 2-1 on party lines to keep Finkenauer on the ballot. But late Sunday night, Judge Scott Beattie, who was appointed by Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds, ruled that she had fallen short of the state’s requirements and could not appear on the primary ballot.

The seven-member Iowa Supreme Court heard oral arguments in the case Wednesday. Finkenauer’s lawyer argued that state law did not require candidates to be removed from the ballot if dates accompanying signatures were missing.

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