Arizona immigration law focus of new Vander Plaats ad

Bob Vander Plaats’ first television commercial didn’t mention his Republican rivals in the governor’s race, but a new commercial released today draws distinctions on immigration:

Rough transcript:

Voice-over: Only one candidate for governor supports Arizona’s tough illegal immigration law: Bob Vander Plaats (visual shows Des Moines Sunday Register headline, “Immigration divides GOP trio: 2 candidates say it’s a federal issue; Vander Plaats endorses Arizona law”)

Vander Plaats speaking to camera: Chet Culver and Terry Branstad want to wait for the federal government to do something about illegal immigration. We’ve waited long enough. I’m tired of relying on the federal government and getting no results. As governor, I’ll give our state and local law enforcement the authority to enforce immigration laws. It’s not just common sense; it’s the right thing to do.

The Republican candidates sparred on the immigration issue during the second gubernatorial debate a few weeks ago. All three candidates engaged in misleading and disgraceful pandering. It’s sad that Vander Plaats embraces the Arizona approach. Not only does the new law encroach on civil liberties, it would be very expensive for local governments to implement. Vander Plaats denies the obvious costs that would accompany this kind of law.

This commercial looks like a “hail Mary” pass to me. I understand why Vander Plaats would want to go negative, but criticizing Branstad’s record as governor, as he did during the third gubernatorial debate, would be more honorable than scoring points on the Arizona law. Maybe their internal polling suggests immigration is a salient issue for the Republican base.

This commercial evokes the usual mixed feelings I have when I think about the Republican primary. Part of me would like to see Vander Plaats win the nomination, because I believe Culver would easily beat him. The other part of me wants Vander Plaats and his ill-informed demagoguery to be irrelevant to Iowa politics after June 8.  

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