Decision Means Iowa Candidate Can Run for Congress Again, But For How Long?

DES MOINES, Iowa  --  She was a candidate. She wasn't. She was a candidate. She wasn't. She is a candidate again. Almost. Unless a state panel or lawsuit decides otherwise. Such is the drama that Theresa Greenfield, a Windsor Heights businesswoman, has endured in the aftermath of a former campaign manager who she said confessed to forging signatures on her petition with the secretary of state to become a Democratic candidate in Iowa's Third Congressional District.

Greenfield submitted signatures two weeks ago, but then rescinded them after her staffer's forgery confession. The next day, she submitted new signatures but later found out she didn't submit the required number for the secretary of state to certify her as a candidate.

Greenfield appealed for help with the 88 activists who make up the district's central committee. Monday afternoon, the group met to determine whether it would use its power to put her on the ballot, despite her failure to get the petition signatures normally required by candidates.

The decision could be unprecedented. Channel 13 hasn't found anyone who can recall such a situation.

It comes down to state code, involving the "death or withdrawal of a candidate."

Read the code here.

But there's disagreement over whether Greenfield qualifies as a candidate who had withdrawn from the race. Did she withdraw when she pulled back the potentially forged signatures but then lose status as a withdrawn candidate when she submitted signatures again? If so, does that make the state code not applicable in this situation?

Or is she still considered a candidate that had withdrawn because she was never certified as a candidate after failing to submit enough signatures? Committee members debated it. Some joined over the phone; others joined in person at the Iowa Democratic Party Headquarters in Des Moines.

The committee had to first decide whether to put a candidate on the ballot (not any specific candidate). Thirty-six voted "yes," 31 voted "no." That was the crucial vote.

The committee then had to vote on whether to put Greenfield on the ballot. That vote was not as close: 42-17.

Greenfield dialed in so that she could listen but didn't have a vote in the process. Afterwards, she told Channel 13, "This is an extraordinary situation and this law was written to accommodate extraordinary situations, and again as Democrats, I think we always error on the side of inclusion."

Greenfield still faces challenges, one, perhaps, two. On Tuesday, a three-person state panel consisting of Secretary of State Paul Pate (a Republican), State Auditor Mary Mosiman (a Republican) and Attorney General Tom Miller (a Democrat) will meet to consider Greenfield's status. But even if Greenfield gets the panel's approval to be a candidate, her campaign still must survive any potential legal challenge. A rival campaign could sue on whether the unusual process was legal.

Cindy Axne, Eddie Mauro and Pete D'Alessandro have all already qualified to be on the ballot after turning in the necessary amount of signatures to the secretary of state's office.

Axne is the only one of the three challengers to publicly criticize Greenfield for trying to remain in the race. The campaign released a statement Friday that said, "Theresa Greenfield's circumstance is unfortunate, but the buck stops with the candidate. Despite multiple attempts, she has not qualified for the ballot. I am truly sorry for the position in which she finds herself, but we cannot ignore the integrity of our election process. Legal opinions support the fact that the statute Ms. Greenfield is trying to use simply does not apply in this case."

Axne's campaign did not respond for comment Monday afternoon following the central committee's vote that approved Greenfield to be placed on the ballot.

Secretary of State Paul Pate addressed the uniqueness of the Greenfield situation on Sunday's "The Insiders" on Channel 13.

Watch his appearance here. 

One of Pate's Democratic challengers, Deidre DeJear, also weighed in on Greenfield's situation during the show.

Watch her appearance here.