Members of the Democratic 3rd Congressional District committee narrowly voted to move forward Theresa Greenfield’s candidacy, allowing her to clear the first of three hurdles to join the Democratic primary ballot. The committee voted 36 in favor and 31 against to add an additional candidate to the ballot, pursuant to Section 43.23 of the Iowa Code. They then voted 42 to 17 in favor of making that specific candidate be Greenfield.
It was another leg in the long series of events ever since Greenfield’s campaign manager admitted the night before the filing deadline that he had forged a number of signatures on her candidacy petitions. Greenfield fired her manager, withdrew her petition, spent a hectic day attempting to collect 1,790 new signatures, came just 198 short and then sought legal options to still make the ballot. Her team pointed to section 43.23 of the Iowa Code, which deals with candidates who die or withdraw their candidacies and allows the party committee to put one additional candidate on the ballot in their place.
Debate over the decision was spirited and close, though respectful. About a dozen members of the roughly 80-person committee were present at the Iowa Democratic Party’s headquarters. The rest debated and voted over a phone conference.
Those opposed to the maneuver to try to place Greenfield on the ballot contended that Greenfield’s situation simply didn’t apply to 43.23 and that they were opening up the process to unintended consequences.
“All we are going to do is bring a great deal of controversy and litigation,” argued committee member Ivan Weber.
Others worried that the situation would provide fodder to Republicans to accuse Greenfield and Democrats overall of advancing a candidate through a back-door process.
“I think we are writing David Young’s campaign ads for him,” warned committee member Ruth Thompson.
Several speakers in favor of the action believed that the Iowa Code was vague enough to let Greenfield advance in the process. But the argument that seemed to carry the day was that the committee should let Greenfield move forward and let others in the process decide her final fate.
“We’re just voting to let Theresa move forward to the Secretary of State, who will allow or deny Theresa to be on the June primary ballot,” said committee member Julie Stewart. “Either decision will be challenged and to go to a three-person forum. Let the final decision be on the shoulders of the Secretary of State, State Auditor and the Attorney General.”
Many members agreed that they should leave the legal aspect – which many members said they simply weren’t positive on – to the three-person election commission of Paul Pate, Mary Mosiman and Tom Miller. Pate and Mosiman are Republicans, Miller is a Democrat. That meeting may happen sometime later this week, though it may take some sort of a challenge from someone to force that to happen.
Even if Greenfield gets a favorable decision from them, however, it’s very likely that either the Republicans or another 3rd District Democratic candidate will file a legal challenge. So, there’s still a ways to go for Greenfield before she is assured a spot on the June 5 primary ballot.
“The spirit of all of American elections is that contested and competitive campaigns are the ideal version of American Democracy,” Greenfield said in a statement. “More contested elections, more competition, more candidates. The best way to achieve this ideal is to have a diverse field of candidates to debate and discuss ideas, values and agendas. It is in that spirit that we pursued this final option to get my name on the ballot.”
“First let me thank the 3rd District Democrats who went the extra mile to help a fellow Democrat with ballot access for an important primary election,” she continued. “I am excited and looking forward to a spirited debate about the issues affecting the people of the 3rd Congressional District.”
by Pat Rynard