Kyle Kuehl, Republican candidate for Iowa’s 1st Congressional District, drops out of race as petition is rejected by state panel

Kuehl was the only of seven candidates facing challenges whose papers were rejected. Democratic Senate candidate Abby Finkenauer and Democratic incumbent Attorney General Tom Miller will both appear on the ballot.


Contributed by Kyle Kuehl

Meg Doster, Politics Reporter

Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks will not face a Republican primary challenger after Kyle Kuehl, a Bettendorf business owner, rescinded his candidacy and didn’t appear at a panel hearing objections to his nominating petition. 

Kuehl, a University of Iowa alum who hasn’t previously held elected office, posted a Facebook video announcing his exit from the race around the same time the State Objection Panel meeting began on Tuesday morning, and he did not appear at the meeting. A petition filed by attorney Alan R. Ostergren alleged Kuehl did not properly state the office and district he was seeking on his nominating petition. 

Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller, Secretary of State Paul Pate, and State Auditor Rob Sand are on the three-member panel which reviews objections to candidates’ petitions to be on the ballot for upcoming elections. 

In the Facebook video, Kuehl said he felt “God is telling me now is not the right time to enter politics.”

“I want to congratulate my opponent, Mariannette Miller-Meeks, and wish her the best in her election come November,” he said. 

Miller-Meeks will likely face Iowa Rep. Christina Bohannan, D-Iowa City, in the general election in November for Iowa’s newly-drawn 1st Congressional District. Bohannan faces no challengers in the Democratic primary.

Iowa’s State Objection Panel was meeting to debate the legitimacy of six other Iowa candidates. 

Ostergren also prepared challenges against Rep. Jeff Shipley, R-Birmingham, Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Abby Finkenaur, and current state Attorney General Tom Miller. 

Excluding Kuehl, the six other candidates who were challenged had the challenges rejected and will appear on the ballot in the June primary elections. The candidates were:

  • Abby Finkenauer, Democratic U.S. Senate candidate.
  • Tom Miller, Democratic attorney general candidate.
  • Anthony LaBruna, Republican candidate for Iowa Senate District 3.
  • Ken Rozenboom, Republican candidate for Iowa Senate District 19.
  • Jack Whitver, Republican candidate for Iowa Senate District 23.
  • Jeff Shipley, Republican candidate for Iowa House District 87.

The objection to Finkanuer’s candidacy was struck down this afternoon and she will appear on the June 7 ballot for the Democratic primary. The objection brought against her alleged she did not have the required signatures from at least 100 eligible voters in 19 Iowa counties. 

“I’ve looked at 200 and some campaigns, who’ve managed to do it right,” Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate said. “Because they took the time to dot the i’s, cross the t’s, make sure everything was done, because to me, these candidate petitions are the starting block.”

Pate said that if candidates cannot get through the candidate petitions without trouble, it does not bode well for the campaign.

“They lost, and it won’t be the last time,” Amanda Sands, Finkenaur’s campaign manager, wrote in a press release after the meeting. “We’re going to keep talking to Iowans in every corner of the state and building the coalition to ensure we beat Chuck Grassley in November.”

Objection against Shipley were also overruled and he will appear on the ballot.

“There was mutual confusion on my behalf and on behalf of the petitioners,” Shipley said. “I apologize to the Secretary of State and the people of Iowa.”

Objections against Miller were overturned after he was able to prove that he had enough valid signatures to remain on the ballot. Miller, the longest-serving state attorney general in U.S. history, is seeking his eleventh term in office. 

Miller had Lt. Gov. Adam Gregg take his place on the panel during Miller’s meeting to object the objection.