BVP: four justices remaining should consider resigning

Bob Vander Plaats, the leader of Iowa for Freedom, is on Jan Mickelson’s talk show on WHO Radio right now.  He just suggested the four justices who remain on the Iowa Supreme Court should consider resigning.  Vander Plaats, a former teacher and coach, used the example of seven kids who were drinking underage, but only three were caught — and the other four should feel compelled to come forward and face the same consequences as their peers.

BVP isn’t suggesting the four justices resign immediately, which would completely shut down the Supreme Court.  But BVP does say the four remaining jutices should consider an orderly exit, to “honor the people” who voted on November 2 to oust the three justices who were on the ballot in the judicial retention election.

Is BVP working for IFPC? is reporting former Republican gubernatorial candidate Bob Vander Plaats — the chair of the “Iowa for Freedom” group which led the campaign to oust three Iowa Supreme Court justices — has been hired by the Iowa Family Policy Center’s Board.  I’ve left a message for IFPC board chairman Danny Carroll and a spokesman for IFPC says he’s been asked not to speak with the media about IFPC’s “reorganization”.  

I asked Vander Plaats last Tuesday night (Election Night) what he intended to do in the future after the successful campaign against retaining the judges, and he said: “I plan on having a voice.”   Vander Plaats then volunteered that he was going to Colorado this week, for a Focus on the Family event. 

Chuck Hurley, president of the Iowa Family Policy Center, released this written statement to Radio Iowa today, neither confirming nor denying Vander Plaats is working at IFPC:

“In response to your media inquiry, I want to let you know that Bob Vander Plaats and his wife Darla are enjoying some out-of-state r & r after last week’s huge win.  All of us at IFPC/IFPCA are VERY pleased with last week’s electoral successes, are optimistic about restoring conservative values and policies, and look forward to great things, including an informative and inspiring “Celebrate the Family” event with 2008 caucus winner Mike Huckabee at 3 pm Nov. 21 at First Federated Church in Des Moines.  All announcements about Bob’s role with us will be made during or before that event. 

“We’ve been very blessed over almost 14 years of civic involvement and family ministry, and greatly appreciate Mr. Vander Plaat’s past, present, and future friendship!  Thanks for your interest.”

Bryan English, director of public relations and outreach for the IFPC, is gone.  English’s (former) cell phone is now being answered by someone else at IFPC.  Mike Hartwig, the long-time vice president of the Iowa Family Policy Center, is no longer part of the organization’s phone tree either.

Branstad says he may hire Mauro & Findley

Governor-elect Terry Branstad is the guest on this weekend’s “Iowa Press” and after the show was taped late this morning, he held a news conference.

Branstad was asked if Brenna Findley and Dave Jamison — two GOP candidates for statewide office who lost on Tuesday — might have a role in his administration.  Branstad said yes, and added Secretary of State Michael Mauro had been “fair” in the way he administered the office for the past four years and Mauro (a Democrat) may be offered a job in a Branstad administration.

Andy Dufflemeyer from asked the question: “You talked a lot about the importance of electing the entire Republican team. Will there be spots in your administration for Brenna Findley and Dave Jamison?”

Branstad responded: “Yes, I think there’s a possibility for them.  I think there’s also a possibility for Mike Mauro.  I think he was a very good secretary of state. I called Mike to offer my condolences and I think he’s a very capable individual that I certainly want to consider as well.  I would also say Rob Roberts is another person I’ve talked to as a possible position. I want to reach out to capable, talented people of all backgrounds that I think could play a key role in state government. I want to use their talent as best to serve the needs of the people of Iowa.”

Duffelmeyer followed up: “What about Bob Vander Plaats?”

Branstad: “We haven’t talked about it.  I don’t know that he has an interest in serving in the administration.  I think he’s got other things that he’s taken on.”

Jeneane Beck followed up, noting that Tom Vilsack has said some of the best advice he got from Branstad during Vilsack’s transition into the governor’s office was not to look only at the party affiliation of a potential employee, but to consider people from both parties.

Branstad: “Well, I mentioned Mike Mauro because I thought he was very fair in the job that he did as secretary of state. He treated our campaign fairly. I think he treated everybody fairly and I know a lot of people across the state of Iowa have a lot of respect for him and for the job that he did and so I feel that he’s one, certainly, but there are many others.  Brenna Findley, I have a lot of respect for her and her ability and research and she has both the experience of being a lawyer but also having worked as chief of staff for a congressman and dealing with some of the constituency issues that you need to do in state government as well.”

Mauro has had a rough week.  He lost, then his home was burglarized.

The 2010 Iowa General Election is history

More than a million votes were cast.  Some candidates won; others lost.  Iowa voters, for the first time, ejected judges from the courts. 

The national Republican “wave” was rather wavy in Iowa, with crests and troughs for the Iowa GOP.  Iowa Republicans won key races for governor and the U.S. Senate and picked up a lot of seats in the Iowa legislature, but the three Iowa Democrats in Iowa’s five-member congressional delegation survived the night.   And the Democrats who’ve served as state treasurer and as Iowa’s attorney general for a total of 56 years between the two of them were reelected.  Attorney General Tom Miller’s race wasn’t even that close — he won by 10 points.  The Iowa GOP alone poured over a half million dollars into the campaign of Miller’s Republican challenger, Brenna Findley.

The three Iowa Supreme Court justices — at 12:33 a.m. — issued a statement acknowledging they lost their retention elections:

It was our great privilege to serve the people of Iowa for many years.  Throughout our judicial service we endeavored to serve the people of Iowa by always adhering to the rule of law, making decisions fairly and impartially according to law, and faithfully upholding the constitution.  

We wish to thank all of the Iowans who voted to retain us for another term.  Your support shows that many Iowans value fair and impartial courts.  We also want to acknowledge and thank all the Iowans, from across the political spectrum and from different walks of life, who worked tirelessly over the past few months to defend Iowa’s high-caliber court system against an unprecedented attack by out-of-state special interest groups.  

Finally, we hope Iowans will continue to support Iowa’s merit selection system for appointing judges.  This system helps ensure that judges base their decisions on the law and the Constitution and nothing else.  Ultimately, however, the preservation of our state’s fair and impartial courts will require more than the integrity and fortitude of individual judges, it will require the steadfast support of the people.  

Chief Justice Marsha Ternus
Associate Justice Michael Streit  
Associate Justice David Baker

At 1:29 a.m., the group which campaigned to get rid of Ternus, Streit and Baker issued a statement:


DES MOINES – Iowa For Freedom State Chair Bob Vander Plaats said Tuesday’s election was a referendum on leadership – failed leadership in the governor’s office, the legislature and the Iowa Supreme Court.

Vander Plaats and Iowa For Freedom have spent three months educating Iowans how the Iowa Supreme Court overstepped its boundaries with its April 3, 2009, ruling on same-sex marriage. Vander Plaats contends the state’s high court legislated from the bench, executed law from the bench and attempted to amend the Constitution with its ruling.

“The people’s voice has fallen on deaf ears for too long and tonight they spoke for a need for new leadership across the state, including three Iowa Supreme Court justices,” Vander Plaats said. “Iowans stood up with a common sense, and measured voice. Tonight we made history, we led on freedom and the rest of the country is going to hear our voice.”

Iowa For Freedom Campaign Manager Chuck Laudner thanked Iowans for their support.

“This result was certainly a group effort, but it was mostly a testament to the resiliency and strength of character of Iowans who cherish their Constitution,” Laudner said. “I am humbled to be associated with all Iowans who put this campaign on their own shoulders.”

Shortly before 1:30 a.m. this morning, the Republican candidate in Iowa’s first congressional district issued a statement (he hasn’t yet conceded the race).  I’m guessing the “in the morning” reference would be to the morning of Wednesday, November 3 rather than Thursday, November 4:

Dear All —

It has been a long night and the Lange campaign intends to review the final vote totals in the morning and proceed in a manner that is in the best interest of Eastern Iowans.

With kind regards,

Cody M. Brown
Campaign Manager
Ben Lange for United States Congress

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:

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Judicial retention election debate on “Iowa Press”

If you miss tonight’s broadcast of “Iowa Press” on Iowa Public Television, you can watch it here.  The topic:  Iowa’s judicial retention election.  The guests on the show were former Iowa Supreme Court Justice Mark McCormick, who has been active in pro-retention/vote yes efforts, and Bob Vander Plaats, a spokesman for Iowa for Freedom — the anti-retention/vote no group.  Vander Plaats, a Republican, ran for governor in 2002, 2006 and 2010.  McCormick, a Democrat, ran for governor in 1998. 

Here’s the Radio Iowa story about today’s event.  Rod Boshart of The Cedar Rapids Gazette wrote this story.  Our colleagues at The Des Moines Register highlighted a comment Vander Plaats made after the show.  DMR columnist Kathie Obradovich blogged this:

…“Anybody watching this program would see a level of judicial arrogance,” (Vander Plaats) said. “And the people of Iowa are still their own people. .. so when they read in judicial arrogance, it may not be just three Supreme Court justices. It may be others as well.”

Asked he were specifically saying McCormick was arrogant, Vander Plaats said, “Yeah, I believe so…”

 Register reporter Grant Schulte wrote this.  The AP’s Mike Glover wrote this.

The current and former governor debate

Lee Enterprises and Citadel Communications are sponsoring tonight’s debate, which starts at 7 p.m.  It’s being staged at the Orpheum Theater in Sioux City, airing live on TV stations KCAU in Sioux City, WOI in Des Moines and WHBF in the Quad Cities.   Iowa Public Television will rebroadcast the debate at 8 p.m. tonight.

KCAU’s Larry Wentz and WOI’s Amanda Krenz are the moderators.  They’re on the screen as I type, standing in front of the two candidates.  Governor Chet Culver, the Democrat, is on the left of the screen and former Governor Terry Branstad, the Republican, is on the right.

A panel of reporters/editors will ask the questions.  They are Mike Gors of The Sioux City Journal; Josh Nelson of The Waterloo Courier; Ed Tibbetts of The Quad City Times and Arian Schuessler of The Mason City Globe Gazette.

Both candidates are wearing red ties!  What follows are my notes, a sort of live blog of the event.

First question goes to Branstad.  Kors cites statistics of Branstad’s 16-year tenure as governor, then asks if his criticism of Culver is just the “pot calling the kettle black.”

Branstad: If you look at the totality of the record…I left the state is a strong fiscal position…(There is now) a projected budget deficit of one million dollars.

Culver begins with thanks to sponsors, mentions the venue.  Stresses that “Terry Branstad has been misleading Iowans.”

Moderator starts to turn it over to Tibetts, but Branstad jumps in and asks about the rules. 

Tibbetts asks about I-JOBS.

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O’Connor’s rules

Retired Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor was in Des Moines this morning for a panel discussion about Iowa’s system of appointing judges and then holding judicial retention elections.  O’Connor forbad recording of the event, so you won’t hear it here.  (That link takes you to the Radio Iowa story, which features an mp3 of the panel discussion AFTER O’Connor left.)

So, Iowans won’t be able to hear what O’Connor said today.  Instead, reporters like Grand Schulte of The Des Moines Register will have to tell you what she said.

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Vander Plaats announcement: not running in November; leading campaign against SupCo justices

Listen to the announcement here.  Republican gubernatorial candidate Bob Vander Plaats held a news conference on the sidewalk outside the Iowa Judicial Building and began by saying he had ruled out running for governor as an independent candidate in the fall election.  Vander Plaats then announced he’ll lead an effort to unseat the three Iowa Supreme Court justices who are on November’s ballot in a retention election.

Read the news releases/statements which have been issued regarding these two announcements.


Sioux City Businessman Will Not Run for Governor as Independent Candidate

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Another BVP clue

The Bob Vander Plaats news conference, scheduled for 10:30 a.m. this morning, is going to be staged on the steps of the Iowa Judicial Building.  (An advisory about the location was emailed at 9:40 p.m. Thursday night.)