Top Democrat Greenfield in Iowa 3rd District Race May Miss Ballot


By Pat Rynard

March 16, 2018

Theresa Greenfield, a top contender for Iowa’s 3rd Congressional District, may not appear on the ballot after a last-minute problem was discovered yesterday with her petition signatures. Republican incumbent David Young will likely be a top target of national Democrats in this Des Moines-based swing district.

Greenfield is one of six Democrats in a wide-open primary field. She had endorsements from major labor unions, had raised the most money so far and was rumored to be the DCCC’s preferred candidate in the race (though there was little involvement from national actors in the primary so far).

While Greenfield turned in her signature petitions to the Secretary of State’s office earlier this week, Greenfield confirmed to reporters this afternoon that her campaign manager informed her Thursday evening that he had forged some signatures. He was immediately dismissed from the campaign. She did not know how many forgeries there were.

“Doesn’t matter. If it’s one, that’s one too many,” Greenfield told reporters early this evening. “And I just couldn’t allow that to go forward. I took corrective action. Dismissed my manager.”

Greenfield decided to completely re-do the petition process in one day. It’s entirely possible no one would have noticed the forgery on their own.

“We had probably hundreds of folks who are Team Theresa, team democracy, team Iowa, who stepped up to help out. It’s heartwarming and it reminds me of what’s at stake here,” Greenfield said.

It added to a wild day of news in the 3rd District, with Democratic candidate Austin Frerick announcing he was withdrawing from the race. Paul Knupp, another Democratic candidate announced he would try to run on the Green Party ticket (it’s much easier to make that). Both of those candidates were seen as long-shots in the race, but had they been on the ballot it would have made a nominating convention much more likely, which happens if no candidate gets 35% in the primary.

Greenfield staff and supporters set out on a frantic effort today across the 16-county district, quickly driving out to counties to collect new signatures. Supporters of different campaigns joined in the effort – staff and volunteers from the Fred Hubbell, John Norris, Nate Boulton, Andy McGuire and Cathy Glasson all pitched in to the effort. Fellow 3rd District contender Pete D’Alessandro personally helped as well.

Democrats running in the 3rd District require 1,790 total signatures from voters in the district, along with certain required numbers from a minimum of eight different counties. For example, for some of the smaller counties, you must get at least 35 from Guthrie County, 39 from Union County or 20 from Fremont County (see all the requirements here).

Volunteers gathered outside the Secretary of State’s office right before the 5:00 P.M filing deadline. Greenfield herself just barely got into the Lucas Building office in time to sign an affidavit to remove her initial filing and submit the next one. The Secretary of State’s office confirmed that her new filing was accepted. However, it will not be known until Monday if they got enough signatures done. Greenfield herself said she does not know if they got enough.

After the filing period ends today, there’s one week in which challenges can be submitted to candidate’s petitions. No one is officially on the ballot until the end of next week.

Greenfield is the president of Colby Interests, a commercial real estate company. She was featured on the cover of Time Magazine a few months ago along with other women who were running for office. Throughout her campaign, she impressed many activists with her life story, which included raising two young children at age 24 after her first husband, a journeyman lineman, was killed in a workplace accident. She had the endorsement of AFSCME, the Building Trades and the Laborers.

Were Greenfield to fail to make the ballot, it would drastically shake up the 3rd District primary. She was seen by many as the front-runner, though it is still a close competition among the formerly six-person field. There was a real likelihood it went to a nominating convention, which happens if no candidate reaches 35% in the June 5 primary. If Greenfield is out, that chance diminishes significantly.

Former Bernie Sanders adviser Pete D’Alessandro was considered to have an advantage if it went to convention. This development might propel Cindy Axne, a small businesswoman from West Des Moines, into the lead considering she would be the only female candidate in the race. Axne, Eddie Mauro and Greenfield had all raised significant funds for their races, and D’Alessandro had raised a decent amount with extra national help coming in now from Sanders.

Back during the February 5 Iowa Caucus, Starting Line ran into Greenfield on the way out from the caucus at Roosevelt High School. Greenfield was standing by herself by the table with candidate petition sheets on it. She was grabbing people as they left to sign her own sheets, but also insisted they sign all her primary opponents’ petitions too.


by Pat Rynard
Posted 3/16/18


  • Pat Rynard

    Pat Rynard founded Iowa Starting Line in 2015. He is now Courier Newsroom's National Political Editor, where he oversees political reporters across the country. He still keeps a close eye on Iowa politics, his dog's name is Frank, and football season is his favorite time of year.



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