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social conservatives

Sixteen Iowa lawmakers issue dumbest ultimatum ever

by: desmoinesdem

Mon Apr 01, 2013 at 07:45:00 AM CDT

The FAMiLY Leader's strange obsession with the Iowa Governor's Conference on LGBTQ Youth is well-established. Last year, the socially conservative organization led by Bob Vander Plaats was so focused on getting Governor Terry Branstad to drop his affiliation with this conference that they were too "busy" to protest as the governor wined and dined the future Communist ruler of China (world leader in coerced abortions).

The FAMiLY Leader was at it again last week, throwing a fit over the 8th Annual Governor's Conference on LGBTQ Youth scheduled for April 3. For this post, I don't want to focus on the "ludicrous" concerns raised by people like Chuck Hurley ("Stop coming after my kids and other people's kids with evil propaganda"). I don't want to focus on how Branstad "ducked rather than draw fire from name-callers" with this weak response to the controversy.

Today I'm more interested in sixteen Republican lawmakers who showed their solidarity with the FAMiLY Leader by making an idiotic promise they can't possibly keep.

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Iowa Senate district 30: Jeff Danielson and Matt Reisetter up on tv

by: desmoinesdem

Wed Sep 12, 2012 at 11:54:21 AM CDT

Both Democratic incumbent Jeff Danielson and Republican challenger Matt Reisetter have started advertising on television in what is expected to be one of Iowa's most competitive legislative races: Iowa Senate district 30. Both videos and transcripts are after the jump, along with a district map and background on both candidates.  
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Romney has work to do with Iowa social conservatives

by: desmoinesdem

Fri Apr 13, 2012 at 08:25:00 AM CDT

Some people with big megaphones in the Iowa Republican world are still not sold on Mitt Romney for president.  
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Anti-abortion groups MIA as Iowa welcomes Chinese VP

by: desmoinesdem

Thu Feb 16, 2012 at 07:44:28 AM CST

As Iowa's top state officials welcomed Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping yesterday, activists gathered in Muscatine and Des Moines to protest China's policy of repression in Tibet. Governor Terry Branstad praised Xi and his country, gushing about the potential to expand trade and friendship between Iowa and China.

Iowa's "pro-life" movement was nowhere to be seen and had nothing to say about Xi's visit.

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Polls, vows, ads and other Republican Iowa caucus news (updated)

by: desmoinesdem

Thu Jul 14, 2011 at 11:32:30 AM CDT

It's time for another news roundup on the Republican presidential campaigns in Iowa. This week brought new polls, new commercials, and hints of new candidates joining the race. It wasn't a promising week for Bob Vander Plaats and his FAMiLY Leader organization, however.

Poll numbers, campaign ads, and more are after the jump.  

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Tell us something we don't know about Bob Vander Plaats

by: desmoinesdem

Mon Jan 03, 2011 at 13:36:39 PM CST

You don't have to be a "friend and former adviser on three of Bob Vander Plaats' campaigns" for governor to know what Dan Moore writes in a Des Moines Register guest editorial today. But the assessment packs more of a punch coming from a former close associate:

Bob is obsessed with the gay-marriage issue. He is so obsessed that he would rather see the Iowa judicial system destroyed, instead of pursuing a change in the law within the channels provided (a constitutional amendment).

This post continues below.

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Weekend open thread: Huckabee in Iowa edition

by: desmoinesdem

Sat Nov 20, 2010 at 17:33:44 PM CST

What's on your mind this weekend, Bleeding Heartland readers?

Past and perhaps future presidential candidate Mike Huckabee is in Des Moines tonight Sunday, headlining the Iowa Family Policy Center's annual fundraiser. Other speakers include WHO talk radio personality Steve Deace and Iowa Family Policy Center Action president Chuck Hurley.

The big event is also Bob Vander Plaats' debut as "president and chief executive officer of an umbrella group that includes the Iowa Family Policy Center, Marriage Matters and their political action committee." The Iowa Family Policy Center endorsed Vander Plaats for governor. Huckabee came to Iowa to campaign for Vander Plaats, who chaired his successful Iowa caucus campaign in 2008.

Vander Plaats told journalists this week that his umbrella group will mobilize social conservatives and endorse a candidate for the upcoming Iowa caucus campaign. If Huckabee stays out of the presidential race, several campaigns will work hard to win the approval of Vander Plaats, Hurley and Deace. If Huckabee runs again, other candidates may as well not waste their time.

I got a robocall from Huckabee Thursday or Friday of this week, but I don't know whether it was a fundraising call or an attempt to identify supporters. The call ended quickly after I answered "no" to the question, "Do you consider yourself pro-life?"

I'm headed to a friend's birthday party tonight as soon as my version of Jewish noodle kugel comes out of the oven for the potluck. Quite a few Branstad voters will be in attendance (including the birthday girl), and I'm determined not to get into any arguments.

My Twitter feed is full of Republicans freaking out about Governor Chet Culver's deal with AFSCME. A 2 percent raise for state employees, followed by a 1 percent raise, is far from excessive. Republican complaints about Culver's lack of "courtesy" amuse me. It wasn't too polite of Terry Branstad to spend millions of dollars on tv ads lying about I-JOBS and how Culver managed the state's finances.

UPDATE: To clarify, the proposed contract with AFSCME involves a 2 percent across the board salary increase starting July 1, 2011, a 1 percent across the board salary increase starting January 1, 2012, another 2 percent across the board salary increase beginning July 1, 2012, and a 1 percent across the board salary increase starting January 1, 2013.

This is an open thread.

UPDATE: Kay Henderson posted a good liveblog of Huckabee's November 21 press conference and his speech to the Iowa Family Policy Center crowd. The same post links to an audio clip of Huckabee's comments to reporters and covers Vander Plaats' speech to the crowd at the fundraiser.

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A Steve King radio ad and other judicial retention vote news

by: desmoinesdem

Thu Oct 28, 2010 at 21:03:57 PM CDT

The big purple Judge Bus completed its Iowa tour on October 28, but the groups urging Iowans to oust three Supreme Court justices aren't winding down their voter persuasion efforts. Representative Steve King has recorded a radio commercial asking Iowans to "send a message against judicial arrogance."

The ad script is after the jump, along with news on the Judge Bus and the "Homegrown Justice" events, which called on Iowans to retain all the judges on the ballot.

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Coalition against Iowa Supreme Court justices launches second tv ad

by: desmoinesdem

Wed Oct 20, 2010 at 15:52:01 PM CDT

The Iowa for Freedom coalition launched another statewide television commercial today urging Iowans to vote against retaining Supreme Court justices Marsha Ternus, Michael Streit and David Baker. The concept and images strongly resemble the coalition's first tv ad on the subject, which started running in mid-September.

Video, transcript and comments are after the jump.

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Moderate Republicans co-chair new group for retaining Supreme Court justices (updated)

by: desmoinesdem

Thu Oct 14, 2010 at 09:15:27 AM CDT

Former Republican Governor Bob Ray is co-chairing a new group that will urge Iowans to retain three Supreme Court justices who are on the ballot:

The group, Fair Courts for US, plans to stage a direct mail and media advertising campaign as part of a statewide grassroots answer to several conservative advocacy groups that are urging Iowans to vote against retention of Chief Justice Marsha Ternus as well as Justices Michael Streit and David Baker.

Three of the four co-chairs are prominent Republicans: Ray, who was governor from 1969 to 1983, Art Neu, who was lieutenant governor from 1973 to 1979, and Sioux City attorney Dan Moore, a past-president of the Iowa State Bar Association and former secretary and treasurer of Bob Vander Plaats' gubernatorial campaign. The fourth co-chair is Democrat Christie Vilsack, who was first lady from 1999 to 2007.

[Moore] said there are other avenues available to those who disagree with a court decision, such as appealing to a higher court or amending the state constitution, rather than targeting a judge or justice up for retention based just on one decision.

"The courts are accountable to the constitution and to the rule of law and not politicians. It's not a popularity contest that's run here," Moore said. "(In) our system of justice, courts must look at the facts. They must apply the laws and make a determination for an outcome of a case. Our citizens deserve the very best courts that they can have access to and that's what they have today." [...]

"Our system is far and away superior to those states where judges are elected every four years. That's why Fair Courts For Us is urging Iowans to take a stand and vote 'yes' to retain the justices and preserve our system of jurisprudence," Ray said.

I wish this effort every success, but I don't know how much grassroots work can be accomplished with less than three weeks left before the election. According to the Secretary of State's Office, nearly 250,000 Iowans had requested absentee ballots as of October 14, and nearly 120,000 ballots had already been returned.

I hope Fair Courts for Us has television and radio commercials featuring Ray ready to launch as soon as possible. Ray commands tremendous respect among Iowans who remember him as governor, and older Iowans are least likely to support the Supreme Court's Varnum v Brien decision on marriage. Backers of the Iowa for Freedom effort to oust the judges have been advertising statewide for a month already and have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on the campaign.

Two other groups are trying to educate the public about the benefits of Iowa's current judicial system: the Justice, Not Politics coalition and Iowan for Fair & Impartial Courts. However, those advocates are not explicitly urging Iowans to vote yes on retaining Ternus, Streit and Baker.

UPDATE: Fair Courts for Us started running this 60-second radio commercial in seven major Iowa markets on October 15. My transcript:

Sound of football game, tackle, referee's whistle, sports announcer's voice: And the flags are flying. Looks like a questionable call.

Referee's voice: Unnecessary roughness.

Sports announcer: I think we're gonna see some fans calling for these refs' jobs.

Bob Ray: Listen, we'll never agree with every call, but you shouldn't fire the good referees over just one call. The same is true for the Iowa Supreme Court. I'm Bob Ray, a Republican and former Iowa governor. The Iowa Supreme Court has been making solid judgments over the years. The court protected Iowa families by requiring convicted sex offenders to live at least 2,000 feet away from a school or child care center, protected Iowa seniors, and protected our individual property rights. Please join me, Bob Ray, in turning over the ballot and voting yes, yes, and yes to retain the Iowa Supreme Court. There's enough politics out there. We don't need it in our courts.

Announcer: Paid for by Fair Courts for Us.

I wouldn't have picked Iowa's ineffective sex-offender residency restrictions as the best example of how the Supreme Court has worked for Iowans. This law clusters sex offenders in a few areas, and "many of those who work most closely with sex offenders and say restrictions are not working and public safety would benefit from change." That's not to say the Supreme Court's decision on this law was incorrect (similar laws have been upheld in other states), but Iowans weren't "protected" by the law.

In any event, this commercial is obviously targeting a conservative audience who might be inclined to vote against the judges, as well as senior citizens who probably remember Ray as governor.  

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Court-bashing pastor finds judicial review he can believe in

by: desmoinesdem

Wed Oct 13, 2010 at 20:00:48 PM CDT

Since last spring, I've thought conservatives who denied the Iowa Supreme Court's authority to rule on marriage didn't grasp the judicial review concept. But Reverend Cary K. Gordon of the Cornerstone World Outreach church in Sioux City proved me wrong with his prayer:

"Dear God, please allow the IRS to attack my church, so I can take them all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court."

Gordon says he'll defy federal tax laws this month by urging his congregation to vote against the retention of three Supreme Court justices because of the ruling that effectively legalized same-sex marriage in Iowa. He's asked 1,000 church leaders to join him, prompting a complaint to the Internal Revenue Service.

Churches and other nonprofit organizations are prohibited from directly advocating for or against candidates. Their tax-exempt status is at risk if they do, although the IRS rarely goes so far.

Gordon is among church leaders who feel the restriction is unconstitutional. He apparently sees no irony in seeking court protection.

Gordon has been recruiting Iowa clergy to preach a "no" vote on judicial retention for the past month. He thinks he has a strong case on First Amendment grounds. There's plenty of legal precedent for requiring tax-exempt organizations to refrain from certain kinds of political advocacy. But I'm more amused by Gordon's desire to have the courts strike down part of a tax code adopted by the people's representatives. How is that different from the Iowa Supreme Court striking down a key provision of Iowa's Defense of Marriage Act?

Supreme Court Chief Justice Marsha Ternus, one of three high court judges on the ballot this year, noted Gordon's hypocrisy in a speech at Iowa State University yesterday:

"The pastor claims this law is unconstitutional, and has vowed to challenge the law - where? In the courts," she said. "It seems the pastor is quite comfortable arguing the will of the people, as expressed in this federal law, can be declared void in the courts."

Ternus also asserted that activists urging a no vote on retention "are blinded by their own ideology."

"They simply refuse to accept that an impartial, legally sound and fair reading of the law can lead to an unpopular decision." [...]

One of the main arguments for those wishing to oust the justices is centered around the idea that the justices did not have the authority to overturn the marriage law. As she extensively points out, judicial review is entrenched in both the American and Iowan judicial tradition, seeing support from the 1787 Constitutional Convention and from the authors of the Iowa Constitution. [...]

Critics have also said justices subverted the will of the people by overturning a state law that is supported by a majority of Iowans. Ternus refutes this claim and other claims of judicial activism by saying the court fulfilled its constitutional role by acting in the interests of protecting constitutionally protected rights.

"When ruling that a statute violates the constitution the court does not usurp the powers of the other branches of government, the court exercises its own authority," she said. "The court is not legislating from the bench, it is resolving a dispute between the parties by declaring the legislature's act unenforceable because it violates the will of the people as expressed in their constitution."

I'm concerned about the retention vote, partly because the judges' opponents are spending so much money, and partly because about 25 percent of voters typically vote against retention even in a year without controversy. Share any thoughts about these election in this thread.

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Poll on Iowa judicial retention vote is in the field

by: desmoinesdem

Thu Sep 30, 2010 at 20:46:07 PM CDT

At about 4:00 pm today a woman from Lawrence Research called with a survey on the upcoming elections. As always when I receive a political phone call, I didn't hang up and took as many notes as possible on the poll. Judging from the question wordings, this was a message-testing survey commissioned by a group trying to oust the three Iowa Supreme Court justices who will be on the ballot this November.

The Lawrence Research polling firm is run by Gary Lawrence, who was active in California's Prop 8 campaign against same-sex marriage. His firm recently conducted a poll purporting to show that Minnesotans want a governor who opposes same-sex marriage rights. The Minnesota Family Council and National Organization for Marriage publicized that poll.

I assume the American Family Association and/or the National Organization for Marriage commissioned the poll for which I was a respondent today. Those groups are lavishly funding the "Iowa for Freedom" effort to oust the judges. Television commercials urging a no vote on retention began running statewide two and a half weeks ago.

If this poll shows that Iowans are poised to vote no on retaining the Supreme Court justices, whoever commissioned it will probably announce the results. I'll assume the numbers were good for the judges if I don't see an Iowa for Freedom press release about the poll in the coming weeks.

After the jump I've posted as many details as I could about the survey questions.

Speaking of the retention elections, get a load of this brazen recruiting effort by a Sioux City church: "Pastors who join this effort are asked to commit to confront the injustice and ungodly decisions of the Iowa Supreme Court by boldly calling upon their flocks to 'vote no on judicial retention' for the three consecutive Sundays prior to Election Day."  

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Case against Iowa Supreme Court justices hits tv screens

by: desmoinesdem

Tue Sep 14, 2010 at 11:27:15 AM CDT

Iowa for Freedom, the group seeking to oust three Iowa Supreme Court justices this November, began running a statewide television commercial on Monday.

The ad echoes language Iowa for Freedom chair Bob Vander Plaats used during his gubernatorial campaign, and it reflects the same failure to understand the judicial review process.

The video and transcript are after the jump, along with an update on the counter-effort to protect judicial independence in Iowa.

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Republicans waging war against judicial independence in Iowa

by: desmoinesdem

Fri Aug 06, 2010 at 14:01:39 PM CDT

Bob Vander Plaats announced at a press conference today that he will not run for governor as an independent but will lead a public campaign against retaining the three Iowa Supreme Court justices whose names are on the ballot this November. Vander Plaats didn't say who will fund the campaign, but promised more details on his "grassroots" effort next week. James Lynch reported yesterday that the Republican Governors Association will fund Vander Plaats' crusade, which RGA officials consider "a model to be duplicated in other states."

It's been obvious for weeks that Vander Plaats wasn't planning an independent bid for governor. The only question was what kind of face-saving deal would be struck between the bitter Republican primary rivals. The rumor mill suggested Vander Plaats might endorse Branstad in exchange for a promised future job. Instead, we have a different truce: Vander Plaats formally stands true to his principles by not endorsing Branstad. In return, the RGA (Branstad's largest campaign donor by far) will pay for Vander Plaats' revenge mission against Iowa judges.

Branstad has avoided publicly urging Iowans to vote against retaining the Supreme Court justices, and he didn't have the guts today to take a stand for or against unseating them over a political dispute. In a written statement, Branstad said, "This is an issue on which Bob has often spoke with great passion and I understand his desire to pursue this path."

How different from the Branstad of May 2009, who said "I do respect the existence of the separation of powers" when asked whether he regretted appointing two of the current justices, including Mark Cady, author of the Varnum v Brien decision.

The old Branstad wasn't planning to run for governor again. The new Branstad doesn't mind exploiting resentment over same-sex marriage for his own political gain. If that ends the careers of three good judges while elevating demagogues who don't understand judicial review, so be it. Branstad appointee and Chief Justice Marsha Ternus has said this year's retention elections will test Iowans' commitment to an impartial judiciary. Branstad won't join the right side in this fight.

On the contrary, Branstad has endorsed changing Iowa's highly-regarded merit-based system for selecting judges. He has an interest in creating vacancies he could fill if elected governor, and he would rather pander to the religious right than allow judicial selection commissions to keep doing the job they've been doing for almost four decades. Some Iowa Republicans have advocated bringing back judicial elections or extremely stupid new restrictions on judicial deliberations. Branstad should know better than to play with fire on this issue.

Iowa House and Senate Republicans are probably overjoyed by today's news. Vander Plaats will be working to turn out social conservatives who might not be thrilled with the party's nominee for governor. That has to help GOP candidates in some of the battleground legislative districts. On the other hand, moderates may be turned off by the campaign against the judges. A Des Moines Register poll of likely Iowa Republican primary voters taken in June by Selzer and Associates found that 35 percent of respondents said some Iowans had "overreacted" to the gay marriage issue. The same survey found that 45 percent of likely Republican primary voters were against voting to remove Supreme Court judges because of their decision on marriage.

I'm concerned about the retention elections, because the judges are unable to campaign on their own behalf. Those who support judicial independence, such as the State Bar Association, are unlikely to match spending against the judges by conservative groups and the Republican Governors Association. Fortunately, Governor Chet Culver made his position loud and clear today:

"I support Iowa's Supreme Court justices and more importantly, I support our judicial nomination and appointment process as it stands today.

"Iowa is known for having the fairest judge selection system in the country. We oppose efforts to make choosing our judges more political, more ideological.

"Terry Branstad and his running mate Kim Reynolds have made it clear that they want to change our system. Branstad has gone so far as to highlight Reynolds's support for changing the state's constitution, allowing the governor to reject all nominees sent by the judicial nominating committee, requiring the committee to send names again and again until the governor finds an appointee that supports a certain political agenda.

"This campaign is about the future of our state and about choosing to move forward, instead of backwards. The best way to do that is not to focus on ideological battles but to bring Iowans together by investing in our future to create jobs, continue our national leadership in renewable energy and build 21st Century schools."

John Deeth seems optimistic that the Vander Plaats crusade will fail. He makes a good point today:

Just for the record, here's how the math usually works out on these things: the judges almost always win [retention] by an 80%-20% margin, with 40% or so of voters just skipping the contests entirely. I don't see BVP swaying a typical independent voter. If he has any impact it's on the margins, lowering that undervote percentage.

In [the] 1992 ERA vote, I learned a tough but basic lesson: Loudly reminding your people to vote Yes in an otherwise low-profile race simultaneously reminds the other side to vote No. The polarity is reversed here but BVP faces the same dilemma.

In 2004, activists on the religious right "mounted an unsuccessful campaign to oust Woodbury County District Court Judge Jeffrey Neary in 2004 based on Neary's decision to grant a divorce to two lesbians who had entered into a civil union in Vermont." Here's hoping Vander Plaats fails too.

Share any relevant thoughts in this thread. Do you think Branstad can get by with weasel wording on the retention vote for the rest of the campaign? Or will he be forced later to come out explicitly for or against keeping Justices Ternus, Michael Streit and David Baker on the high court?

UPDATE: A statement from the American Judicature Society is after the jump. Iowa's judiciary has been recognized as among the best in the country.

AUGUST 11 UPDATE: How cowardly is Terry Branstad?

"This is a ballot issue, and Gov. Branstad believes this is an issue on which people need to decide for themselves," spokesman Tim Albrecht said today. "He respects the secret ballot and believes people should vote their conscience."
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Early reaction to Branstad's choice of Kim Reynolds

by: desmoinesdem

Thu Jun 24, 2010 at 20:54:47 PM CDT

A string of prominent Iowa Republicans spoke out today praising Terry Branstad's choice of State Senator Kim Reynolds for lieutenant governor. IowaPolitics.com posted the Branstad campaign's press releases with encouraging words from Iowa GOP Chairman Matt Strawn, Iowa Senate Minority Leader Paul McKinley, Iowa House Minority Leader Kraig Paulsen, former Congressional candidate and tea party favorite Dave Funk, former gubernatorial candidate Christian Fong, and Iowa's representatives on the Republican National Committee, Steve Scheffler and Kim Lehman. Scheffler heads the Iowa Christian Alliance, and Lehman is a past president of Iowa Right to Life.

The Branstad campaign is anxious to avoid an embarrassing display of support for Bob Vander Plaats at this Saturday's Republican state convention. Today they hit convention delegates with an e-mail blast and robocalls stressing Reynolds' "conservative credentials." The strong words from Scheffler and Lehman in support of the ticket may prevent any media narrative from developing about religious conservatives rejecting Branstad. The Iowa Family Policy Center (viewed by many as a rival to the Iowa Christian Alliance) backed Bob Vander Plaats in the Republican primary and vowed not to endorse Branstad against Democratic Governor Chet Culver. That group recently affirmed that Branstad would need to undergo a "fundamental transformation" to win their support in the general election campaign.

Lehman wrote at the Caffeinated Thoughts blog today that Reynolds' "record speaks for itself." Lehman's long list of conservative bills co-sponsored by Reynolds in the Iowa Senate impressed Caffeinated Thoughts blogmaster Shane Vander Hart. He supported Rod Roberts for governor and was a leader of the petition drive lobbying Branstad to choose Roberts as his running mate.

To my mind, Reynolds' record in the Iowa Senate says only that she sticks with the consensus in the Republican caucus. She has not taken any unusual positions or been outspoken on any major issues under consideration. An acquaintance I spoke with today, who spends a lot of time at the capitol every year during the legislative session, had not even heard of Reynolds before this week. That's how low her profile has been during her two years at the statehouse. Reynolds may be a reliable back-bencher for conservatives, but I don't see her as a strong advocate for the religious right. She doesn't have the stature to drive the agenda if Branstad is elected. Like Todd Dorman wrote yesterday, the lieutenant governor gets to do "whatever the governor lets you do. And in a Branstad administration, if the past is an indicator, his mate will be the special director of the Department of Not Much."

Nor is there any indication that Reynolds would urge Branstad to make social issues a priority. I think this pick indicates the business wing of the Iowa GOP is fully in charge--or at least one faction in that wing. Others in the business community appear to have been pushing for Jeff Lamberti or Jim Gibbons to be selected as Branstad's running mate.

Lieutenant Governor Patty Judge spoke about Reynolds today on behalf of the Culver campaign. She suggested that Reynolds may not help Branstad with the social conservatives who supported other candidates for governor, because she "comes out of the same camp as Terry and Doug Gross rather than out of the camp of Bob Vander Plaats or Mr. Roberts." In a press release and news conference, Judge also emphasized that we don't know much about Reynolds' views on key issues, and that her learning curve will be steep, because she has relatively little experience at the statewide level: "It will take a lot of study on Kim's part. [...] If [Branstad] keeps her in the basement in a small office as he did [former Lieutenant Governor] Joy Corning, then she's not going to have much of an opportunity to know what's going on." Say what you will about Patty Judge (I'm not a fan), but she did have a strong legislative record and eight years of holding statewide office going into the 2006 campaign. She has had real influence on policy in the Culver administration.

Being a blank slate may have its advantages, however. Iowa State University Professor Steffen Schmidt thinks Reynolds was a good choice because she is so unknown that she won't turn voters off or take attention away from Branstad.

Share any thoughts about the Branstad/Reynolds ticket in this thread.

UPDATE: Jason Hancock pointed out at Iowa Independent:

Kim Lehman, another member of the Republican National Committee and formerly president of Iowa Right to Life, praised Reynolds' selection and her legislative record, ticking through each of the bills she has sponsored since entering the state Senate in 2008 and concluding, "Reynolds went into office and took the bull by the horns and got busy."

However, a closer look at the bills Reynolds signed on to reveals she only sponsored one piece of legislation on her own - a requirement that the Department of Natural Resources develop depredation plans to fill harvest quotas of antlerless deer in each county that have not been met at the end of the last established deer hunting season each year.

Other than that, she nearly always joins with all or a large majority of the state Senate's 18 Republicans to push bills.

FRIDAY UPDATE: Reynolds gave an interview to Kathie Obradovich and spoke about being a recovering alcoholic. This is not going to be an issue.

The Branstad campaign is trying to counter opposition to Reynolds over her support for a recreational lake project that angered some property rights advocates. Today the campaign released an endorsement from State Representative Jeff Kaufmann, who tried to intervene in that dispute on the side of property owners.

"I remain dedicated to the fight for private property rights in this state," said Kaufmann. "The last four years of Democratic control of the Legislature has yielded no strengthening of these rights.  The Democratic majority has not allowed debate of a single property rights bill despite overwhelming support for the 2006 landmark legislation."

"Our attempts to protect property rights will be thwarted, as usual, by Governor Culver and Democratic leadership without Republican control of the Legislature," added Kaufmann. "To me, all other property rights discussions are secondary to that goal.  I look forward to working with Kim Reynolds in the future to protect property owners in the future."

The Branstad campaign also sent conservative blogger Shane Vander Hart a statement from Reynolds about eminent domain:

I fully support the 2006 legislation that curtailed the use of eminent domain to take private property. I do not support eminent domain for commercial development purposes. I support eminent domain only for essential public services.

That answer satisfied Vander Hart. However, one issue with these recreational lake projects (like ones proposed for Page County, Clarke County and Madison County in recent years) is that the advocates will claim the land grab serves an essential public service, like providing more drinking water. However, analysts dispute whether the lake is really needed as a drinking water source, or whether that's a ruse to obscure the real goal behind the project. A few people stand to make a lot of money if the farmland they own can be developed as lakeshore property. So the question is whether the state would allow other people's farmland to be condemned in order to create a lake that's basically a private commercial development.

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Branstad sticking with Doug Gross playbook

by: desmoinesdem

Thu Jun 24, 2010 at 08:48:28 AM CDT

Terry Branstad made it official this morning, picking State Senator Kim Reynolds to be the Republican candidate for lieutenant governor. Reynolds is a former Clarke County treasurer and past president of the Iowa county treasurer's association who was elected in 2008 to represent Senate district 48 in southern Iowa. The Des Moines Register's Tom Beaumont published more background on Reynolds here. His piece depicts her as "solid on core GOP issues" and "focused on economic development."

Looks like Branstad has picked precisely the kind of candidate his former chief of staff Doug Gross would want on the Republican ticket.

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Dream recruit may spark Republican infighting in Senate district 45

by: desmoinesdem

Mon Mar 08, 2010 at 09:21:07 AM CST

Iowa Republicans have landed Sandy Greiner, their dream candidate against first-term Democratic State Senator Becky Schmitz in Senate district 45. The southeast Iowa district includes all of Washington, Jefferson, and Van Buren counties, plus part of Wapello and Johnson counties (map here). Schmitz defeated Republican incumbent David Miller by 184 votes in 2006, but the area leans slightly Republican in terms of voter registration.

Greiner represented Iowa House district 89, which makes up half of Senate district 45, for four terms (1993 to 2001). She then served for two years in the Iowa Senate before redistricting prompted her to return to House district 89 for another three terms (2003-2009). Consequently, she starts the race with high name recognition in the area and will be able to campaign almost as an incumbent. Republican blogger Craig Robinson sounds ready to declare this seat won for the GOP.

Greiner will be a stronger opponent for Schmitz than the three Republicans who had previously declared for the seat (Richard Marlar, Randy Besick and Dan Cesar). However, I would not assume that local Republicans will be united behind her this fall. Greiner is linked to business elites who have battled with activists on the religious right for control over the direction of the Iowa GOP.

Join me after the jump for more background on Greiner and why I suspect some social conservatives will fight her candidacy.

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A closer look at the Rod Roberts campaign for governor

by: desmoinesdem

Fri Feb 26, 2010 at 11:12:46 AM CST

I expected Terry Branstad to drive all of the lesser-known Republicans out of the governor's race. To my surprise, State Representative Rod Roberts has not followed the lead of Paul McKinley, Christian Fong, Jerry Behn and Chris Rants. Roberts told WHO's Dave Price last weekend that he is staying in the governor's race all the way to the June primary.

Roberts acknowledges the other two men have raised a LOT more money and are better known. After all, Branstad has been governor 4 terms before. [Bob] Vander Plaats has run for governor 3 times. Roberts plans on not just going after typical Republican primary voters to make up for his lack of recognition (he also added that he will just have to outwork the other 2). He plans on getting Democrats and Independents who are unhappy with the money Governor Chet Culver has spent since he took over and who are also unhappy with the overall direction of the state. Roberts told me this will be the year for the outsider. And he said he will be the outsider.

Join me after the jump for closer look at Roberts and his campaign strategy. I doubt he has any chance of winning the primary, but his presence in the race will probably help Branstad.

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Iowa Chief Justice: retention elections will test commitment to impartial judiciary

by: desmoinesdem

Tue Feb 16, 2010 at 14:50:34 PM CST

Shortly after the Iowa Supreme Court unanimously cleared the way for same-sex marriage rights in April 2009, prominent social conservatives in Iowa vowed to vote out three Supreme Court justices who face retention elections in November 2010. Those are Chief Justice Marsha Ternus and Justices Michael Streit and David Baker.

Judges do not campaign actively for retention, but today Ternus commented on the upcoming elections during an Iowa Public Radio appearance. (continues after the jump)

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Silver linings of a Branstad candidacy

by: desmoinesdem

Tue Jan 19, 2010 at 10:48:01 AM CST

Terry Branstad is kicking off his "official" candidacy for governor today, launching a tour around the state. His campaign announced fairly strong fundraising numbers last week and just leaked an internal Republican primary poll showing Branstad leading Bob Vander Plaats by 63 percent to 18 percent.

It's conceivable that Vander Plaats' campaign could take off in the coming months. Right-winger Marco Rubio is now considered likely to defeat Florida Governor Charlie Crist in that state's U.S. Senate primary, despite commanding leads Crist had in polls a few months ago. However, I assume Branstad will lock up the Republican nomination with little trouble.

Branstad will undoubtedly be a tough general-election opponent for Governor Chet Culver. The biggest hurdles for a challenger are usually name recognition, fundraising, and getting voters to imagine the challenger doing the job he's seeking. Branstad is well-known, has done the job before, and has wealthy donors behind him. Frankly, I'd rather not have him in this race.

But my mother taught me not to focus too much on the negative. After the jump I offer some silver linings of a Branstad candidacy.  

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