Former Rep. Abby Finkenauer launches Senate run

Grassley has not yet said if he’s running for reelection

Former Democratic Rep. Abby Finkenauer of Iowa launched a Senate campaign Thursday.  (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call file photo)
Former Democratic Rep. Abby Finkenauer of Iowa launched a Senate campaign Thursday. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call file photo)
Posted July 22, 2021 at 10:24am

Former Iowa Democratic Rep. Abby Finkenauer launched a Senate campaign Thursday, looking to take on Republican Sen. Charles E. Grassley, who has not yet announced whether he will run for reelection. 

Finkenauer’s nearly three-minute launch video highlighted the Jan. 6 mob attack on the Capitol, when supporters of former President Donald Trump stormed the building. 

“It’s politicians like Sen. Grassley and Mitch McConnell who should know better, but are so obsessed with power that they oppose anything that moves us forward. Since the Capitol was attacked, they’ve turned their backs on democracy and on us,” Fineknauer said. “I’m running for the United States Senate because this democracy is ours and truth matters.”

Grassley’s campaign responded by tying Finkenauer to Speaker Nancy Pelosi and saying she lost her seat because she was “too radical for Iowa.”

“Finkenauer wants Washington to control Iowans' lives with more taxes, regulation and big government,” Jennifer Heins, an advisor to Grassley's campaign, said in a statement. “Finkenauer is out of touch and out of office.”

After flipping Iowa’s 1st District in 2018, Finkenauer lost her reelection bid to GOP Rep. Ashley Hinson by 3 percentage points in November.

Finkenauer won’t have the Senate primary to herself.  Former Crawford County Supervisor Dave Muhlbauer and Minden City Councilman Glenn Hurst have already jumped into the race.

Although Finkenauer named Grassley in her launch video, the longtime senator has not yet said whether he will run for a eighth term. National Republican Senatorial Committee Chairman Rick Scott of Florida told the conservative Ruthless podcast that he believes Grassley will ultimately run, noting Grassley traveled to Naples, Fla., for a recent fundraiser. 

“If he flies all the way down from Iowa to Naples, Florida, I think he’s probably going to run,” Scott said.

Democrats have struggled to win statewide in Iowa in recent election cycles. After Barack Obama won the state in 2008 and 2012, Donald Trump carried it in the next two election cycles. Trump won Iowa by 8 points in 2020. While Democrats believed last year’s Senate race would be competitive, GOP Sen. Joni Ernst ultimately defeated Democrat Theresa Greenfield by 7 points.

Iowa is not one of the eight states that Inside Elections with Nathan L. Gonzales rates as Senate battlegrounds.