Last minute hits of 2010 campaign

The big news of the weekend for (most) Iowans is that both Iowa and Iowa State won today. Iowa beat Michigan State 37-6; Iowa State beat Kansas 28-16.  Many Iowa politicians, though, are waiting for their “scores” to be posted on Election Night. The Iowa Democratic Party has a countdown clock on its website, if you want to know how many hours, minutes & seconds are left ’til the polls open on Tuesday. The Republican Party of Iowa’s website doesn’t have a countdown clock; it does have something about party chair Matt Strawn’s “power hour” tour which concluded today. 

There are a few skirmishes in the closing hours. Democrats are pointing to this story in The Cedar Rapids Gazette about GOP lieutenant governor nominee Kim Reynolds.  Republicans are pointing to this story about Attorney General Tom Miller’s fundraising.

There was a debate about the judicial retention election on IPTV’s “Iowa Press” this weekend (the show is rebroadcast Sunday morning at 11:30).  After the show, Iowa for Freedom issued this news release:


DES MOINES – Former Iowa Supreme Court Justice Mark McCormick insisted during the taping of Friday’s Iowa Press that the Iowa Supreme Court is the final arbitrator of Constitutional rights, not the people. McCormick and Iowa for Freedom State Chair Bob Vander Plaats addressed the Nov. 2 retention vote of the three Iowa high court justices on Friday’s Iowa Public Television program.

“The Constitution says ‘we the people’ are the final arbitrator,” Vander Plaats rebutted. “Our goal is to send a message to the court and have it operate within the Constitutional boundaries.”

McCormick, who favors retaining the three Supreme Court justices, said if they are not retained that he is scared about the retention vote for the four remaining justices in 2012. Vander Plaats said they shouldn’t be nervous if use the Constitution to base their decisions and not try to legislate from the bench, execute law from the bench and try to amend the Constitution from the bench as it attempted to do with its April 3, 2009, gay marriage ruling.

“The advice (for the four up in 2012) is to stay within your Constitutional boundaries,” Vander Plaats said. “The courts are not above the law, let alone the Constitution. Our focus is going to be to hold them in check.”

Iowa For Freedom has spent nearly three months educating Iowans to turn over their ballots on Nov. 2 and vote no on the Iowa Supreme Court justices up for retention. Vander Plaats asked for Iowans’ no vote again on Friday’s program.

“People are taking this issue serious,” Vander Plaats said. “We are utilizing the process to hold a court in check. (Not retaining the three justices) will send a very clear message. The people want something done.”

Read the transcript of the show here.  During the program, I asked Vander Plaats about Dan Moore, who served on BVP’s gubernatorial campaign team.   Moore is co-chair of a group which opposes Iowa for Freedom, the Vander Plaats-led group.  Here’s that section of the show:

Henderson:Your organization has also accused the quote/unquote ruling class in Iowa of circling the wagons around the justices. One of the members of the group that is urging Iowans to vote yes on the justices is a former campaign person within your circle, Dan Moore. What’s your response to Dan Moore who says exactly the opposite of what you have just said?

Vander Plaats: I have a great respect for Dan Moore. They’re saying that Dan is not defending this opinion. Governor Ray is not defending this opinion. The ruling class is circling the wagons to protect the process, in which the Des Moines Register highlighted this week in a front page story, the process is out of whack: of the nominating commission, 12 democrats and 1 no-party affiliate; of the supreme court justices, 5 democrats. This is an activist court who took an activist initiative on their own to made law and to govern from the bench, and we’re going to hold them in check.

Moore issued a statement in response, which you can read below.

Moore Strikes Out at Vander Plaats’ Statements
Former Vander Plaats Advisor Says ‘Bob’s Position on Courts Is Wrong and Designed to Mislead and Scare Iowans

SIOUX CITY, Iowa (October 30, 2010) — Dan Moore, former advisor to Bob Vander Plaats and
Co-Chair of the Fair Courts for Us grassroots organization, predicts a victory for justice and for
all Iowans on Tuesday.

“The people of Iowa have always done what is right and voting YES is the right thing to do, Moore said. “Iowans will not stand for politicians and money from out-of-state special interest groups tricking them into selling justice to the highest bidder. I believe my fellow Iowans will exercise their unfailing common sense and sense of fairness on Tuesday.”

Moore resigned his position as secretary and treasurer of the Vander Plaats campaign after the
gubernatorial hopeful threw in with special interests from Mississippi and began advocating the
removal of Supreme Court justices.

“I have no idea why Bob is taking this position, but to me our justice system has been free of politics for more than 50 years and as an attorney and an Iowa citizen, I believe we must fight any effort to turn our courts into a place with justice is for sale and rulings are a product of
popularity rather than the law,” Moore explained. “The opponents of equal protection and justice for all urging Iowans to vote against our Justices—including Bob Vander Plaats, have been bought out by radical, out-of-state groups who are seeking to undermine our judicial system and use their efforts here in Iowa to intimidate the judiciaries in other states. Retaliation will not uphold justice and the law,” Moore added.

Fair Courts co-chairs and supporters traveled the state last week to counter the Judge Bus. Fair Court for Us speakers noted that this retention election is not a referendum on gay marriage. Removing the Justices will not change the law.

“Removing judges will do nothing to change the decision. The court opponents are fully aware
of this. Their actions at best are arbitrary and reactionary, at worst are retaliatory,” Moore said.
“We must not let out-of-state special interest groups undermine the integrity of Iowa’s sound court system. Courts uphold our constitution and protect our rights and freedoms. Strong courts are an essential part of our democracy and provide vital checks and balances in our government.

The people of Iowa, Moore predicts, will do the right thing on Tuesday and will vote YES for
justice for all.

“The people of Iowa will stand up to vote YES to preserve our judiciary and to ensure that all Iowans and their children and grandchildren from all walks of life—no matter their age, race, religion, political affiliation or sexual orientation—have access to the best court system in the country: fair and impartial courts who are accountable to the constitution of Iowa and not to
special interests,” Moore said.

Fair Courts for Us, a grassroots, bipartisan group, is speaking out against the efforts to remove
Iowa judges. The Fair Courts for Us Committee is bringing together citizens, community and
civic leaders, and legal scholars who are urging Iowans to vote “yes” to retain the three Supreme
Court justices on this fall’s ballot. The co-chairs of Fair Courts for Us are: Dan Moore, a Sioux
City attorney, past president of the Iowa State Bar Association and former secretary and treasurer
of Vander Plaats for Governor campaign; Arthur Neu, a Carroll attorney and former Republican
lieutenant governor of Iowa; and Christie Vilsack, a Democrat, former First Lady and executive
director of the Iowa Initiative.

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About O.Kay Henderson

O. Kay Henderson is the news director of Radio Iowa.