IA-Sen: Rob Sand is out. Is Abby Finkenauer in?

State Auditor Rob Sand told Douglas Burns of the Carroll Times Herald on May 27 that he won't run for a federal office in 2022.

“I don’t want to be in D.C.; I don’t want to go to D.C.,” Sand told the Times Herald. “Maybe I would be more interested if my kids were out of the house, but they are 4 and 7. But even if my kids were out of the house, that would be a lot less time to hunt and fish. [...]"

Many Democratic insiders expect Sand to run for governor. He confirmed to Burns he's still thinking about seeking that office and will probably announce by Labor Day whether to run for governor or for a second term as auditor.

During a recent appearance on the Iowa PBS program "Iowa Press," Sand again criticized Governor Kim Reynolds' handling of federal COVID-19 relief funds, adding that her administration hasn't handled the state budget well to address challenges related to the pandemic.

Meanwhile, Ally Mutnick and James Arkin reported for Politico on May 27 that former U.S. Representative Abby Finkenauer "is readying a run" for U.S. Senate in 2022. Citing unnamed "sources familiar with her plans," they said Finkenauer "has started the process of assembling a potential campaign team." I'm seeking confirmation and will update this post as needed.

Finkenauer defeated Republican incumbent Rod Blum in Iowa's first Congressional district in 2018. She narrowly lost to GOP challenger Ashley Hinson last year by about 2.6 points, as Donald Trump carried the northeast Iowa district by a slightly larger 3.4 percent margin. Finkenauer regularly criticizes Senators Chuck Grassley and Joni Ernst on her Twitter feed.

Grassley has indicated he'll reveal his future plans sometime this fall. If he seeks an unprecedented (for Iowa) eighth term in the U.S. Senate, he will be 89 years old on election day 2022.

Former Crawford County Supervisor Dave Muhlbauer became the first declared Democratic candidate for IA-Sen this week. 2020 Senate candidate Mike Franken is also considering the race.

U.S. Representative Cindy Axne has not ruled out running for Senate, but she would probably not compete against Finkenauer for the nomination. Axne seems more likely to run for governor or for a third term in the U.S. House.

EMILY's List, one of the larger spending Democratic-aligned groups, has put Iowa's U.S. Senate seat on its target list. Since their mission is to support pro-choice, Democratic women, they would only stay involved here if Democrats nominated a woman.

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