Finkenauer will have to convince National Democrats that Iowa is worth investing after the 2020 loss and persuade Democrats voters that she is the best candidate after losing to GOP representative Ashley Hinson.
In an interview, Finkenauer touted her record during her tenure in the House, including being the youngest woman to sponsor a bill passed by the House shortly after taking office. She cited the circumstances of the pandemic and the outside money spent in her race for the loss, although she also pointed out out that she passed the top of the ticket in November.
“It will be even more important to speak the truth, to speak it louder, to come out in front of people in a way that we just couldn’t do in 2020,” said Finkenauer.
She criticized Grassley for his record, including saying that votes on taxes and healthcare since his last re-election would be part of her campaign against him.
“He was someone I admired and thought he would get things done. I wouldn’t agree with him on everything and the Democrats didn’t…” Finkenauer said, citing the decades Grassley served alongside then-Democratic Senator Tom Harkin. “Unfortunately, with his votes lately, he’s really left us behind.”
Although Grassley will be 89 on election day, Republicans are optimistic he will run for another term. Most Republicans don’t think the race will be competitive if he runs again, as Grassley has won every reelection bid with over 60% of the vote. Democrats haven’t won a Senate race in Iowa since Harkin’s last victory in 2008.
“Look, I don’t see anything that will stop me from serving another six years if I decide to do so,” Grassley told POLITICO earlier this year.
Several Democrats, including auditor Rob Sand and former congressional candidate JD Scholten, have already dropped their candidacy. But Finkenauer will likely still have to face a primary. Retired Navy Admiral Michael Franken, who lost the 2020 Senate primary, is considering another Senate bid. Representative Cindy Axne, the only Democrat remaining in the Congressional delegation, did not rule out running statewide. Dave Muhlbauer, a farmer and former county supervisor, was the race’s first Democrat.
If Finkenauer becomes the Democrats’ candidate and Grassley runs again, it will create a significant generational gap among the candidates. Finkenauer said in the interview that his argument was not about age but about providing services to the state.
She said she was “not immune to anything on a Biden agenda,” saying that was not how she operated in the House during the Trump administration. But she touted some of the early Democratic successes, particularly the passage of the child tax credit into Covid relief legislation.
“There is so much here that our Senators, in particular, and Republicans who represent Iowa at the federal level have voted against it. And all the investments that will happen in our communities that will help us move forward, they voted against ”, she said. “They are not defending anything at the moment.”