The result was overshadowed by other competitive races, but Democratic voters in Iowa House district 66 produced a big victory for marriage equality yesterday. Elder Clair Rudison, a socially conservative pastor, challenged two-term State Representative Ako Abdul-Samad. Rudison sent out at least five direct-mail pieces attacking Ako's record, two of which mentioned gay marriage (I posted those here).
Most Iowa politics-watchers were confident Ako would win this primary, but in a low-turnout environment anything can happen, so I was relieved to see Ako won 75 percent of the vote yesterday. The result is important because the only Iowa House Democrat who has consistently worked with Republicans to bring a constitutional amendment on marriage to a vote is retiring this year. If Rudison had won the primary, Republicans would be able to continue to claim bipartisan support for their battle against equality and reproductive rights.
One Iowa released a statment on the House district 66 results. Excerpt:
Voters rejected the negative and divisive tactics he and the Iowa Family Policy Center used to try to smear his opponent. "We congratulate Rep. Ako Abdul-Samad on his decisive victory and welcome his continued leadership at the statehouse," said Jenison.
Chuck Hurley and his followers at the Iowa Family Policy Center recruited Clair Rudison to run against long-time community activist and current state representative Ako Abdul-Samad in the Democratic primary simply because Abdul-Samad supports marriage equality for all Iowans.
"For more than a year, the Iowa Family Policy Center said repeatedly that the legislative elections in 2010 will be about one thing: gay marriage," said One Iowa Executive Director Carolyn Jenison. "Tonight's results prove them wrong. Iowans are not interested in writing discrimination into our constitution. They are concerned with creating jobs, improving our schools, and moving our state forward."
The recent Research 2000 Iowa poll for KCCI-TV should be a warning to Republicans who think bashing gay marriage will be their winning ticket in November. About 53 percent of respondents said they favored marriage rights for same-sex couples, while only 41 percent opposed them. KCCI's managing editor for internet broadcasting provided the cross-tabs for that part of the poll. They indicate that support for equality is stronger among women (57-36) than among men (49-46). The KCCI poll showed independents supporting same-sex marriage rights by 58-31, closer to the Democratic numbers of 81-17 than to the Republican respondents, who oppose marriage equality by 83-14.