With a victory in Tuesday's primary elections, Democrat Abby Finkenauer is poised to succeed her legislative mentor as the representative for Iowa House District 99.
Finkenauer received 1,261 votes, good for 58 percent of the vote and the right to vie for the District 99 seat in the Nov. 4 general elections. Her challenger, Steve Drahozal, collected 921 votes.
The vote totals remain unofficial until canvassed by Dubuque County officials.
"I am incredibly grateful," Finkenauer said Tuesday night, looking back on the campaign. "I am humbled by the fact that (constituents) have invited me into their lives. It is a privilege to represent them. I will continue to work hard to make sure this District 99 seat is held by a good Democrat for years to come."
Though a win in November would place Finkenauer in her first elected office, she already is a seasoned veteran at the capital. As a member of the Statehouse page program, Finkenauer sat beside Iowa Rep. Pat Murphy, D-Dubuque, during his first term as speaker of the Iowa House in 2007.
But Murphy has moved on after 25 years, and will face fellow Dubuque native Rod Blum, a Republican, in a fight for northeast Iowa's open U.S. House seat. Finkenauer said if she wins the seat in November, she will do her best to honor her predecessor's legacy.
"We had really groundbreaking legislation that year," she said. "I saw that there was a right way and a wrong way to get things done in politics. And sitting next to (Murphy) as speaker's page, I got to have a front-row seat to that. To end up filling his shoes after I sat next to him is an honor."
Drahozal said Tuesday's results felt like the disappointing culmination of the "world's longest job interview." Still, he said the city of Dubuque has a dedicated candidate in Finkenauer.
"I think she ran a very good campaign," Drahozal said. "She had some very professional help. She has a very bright future ahead of her."
Drahozal said he will fully support Finkenauer during the general election campaign.
"There was never any question about that," he said. "For me, this is always about keeping this seat in the Democratic column."
Drahozal thanked his supporters during the campaign and those who voted for him Tuesday.
The fight to represent District 99 could be one-sided. No Republican candidates entered the race prior to the primary, leaving Finkenauer uncontested, at least for the moment.
District 99 covers the southern and western sections of the city of Dubuque. The winner will be elected to a two-year term.