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.

Culver issues statement on judicial retention

What will Governor Culver do now that voters have kicked three justices off the Iowa Supreme Court?  Read the tea leaves below:

Governor Culver Issues Statement on Iowa Supreme Court Judicial Appointments

DES MOINES – Governor Chet Culver today issued the following statement regarding the appointment of Iowa Supreme Court Justices, necessitated by yesterday’s vote against retention of Justices Ternus, Streit and Baker:

“I am reviewing the matter carefully to ensure the judicial selection process that is utilized now is consistent with the Iowa Constitution, with Iowa law, and with past practices used in the course of both Democratic and Republican administrations in instances when multiple vacancies in our appellate courts have been created simultaneously.”

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

T-Paw’s Marg Bar

Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty is campaigning with Iowa Republicans this afternoon.  Pawlenty attended events in Osceola and Winterset earlier this afternoon with the GOP candidates on the statewide ticket.  At this hour he’s campaigning with Kent Sorenson, a state representative who is running for the state senate.

During a Q&A with reporters, Pawlenty was asked by a WHO-TV reporter what his plans are after his term as governor is over.

“I’m going to open a margarita bar in Florida and play some Kenny Chesney music,” Pawlenty joked. “What do you think?  It’d be all right?”  Chesney has songs with names like “Tequila Loves Me” and “Mexican Beer” — and an album named “No Shoes, No Shirt, No Problem” with a song “On the Coast of Somewhere Beautiful”.

UPDATE:  Pawlenty also commented on the judicial retention elections in Iowa.  Read more about it in the Radio Iowa story here.  Kathie Obradovich of The Des Moines Register blogged about it and Jason Clayworth of The DMR also wrote about it, focusing on what Pawlenty had to say about Iowa Governor Chet Culver (possibly) appointing justices to replace ousted justices.

The Des Moines Register’s “Iowa Poll”

The Des Moines Register has posted some of the details of its latest “Iowa Poll” on the newspaper’s website.   The full details will be in Sunday’s paper, but their snapshot of the governor’s race shows Branstad ahead of Culver by 12 points and Grassley leading Conlin by 31 percent.  The Register also polled on the judicial retention election and the first sentence of The Register’s online story suggests the poll found a “growing likelihood” that the three Iowa Supreme Court justices on the ballot may get voted off the bench.

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:

[Read more…]

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.

Dueling tours over judicial retention election

The “Judge Bus”  is traveling around the state.  The organizers held a kick-off rally this morning in Des Moines on a street just west of the statehouse. About half an hour earlier another group, Fair Courts for US, held a rally on the west steps of the statehouse, around the Lincoln and Tad statue.  That group is calling their schedule of events around the state the Homegrown Justice Tour.

Read the Radio Iowa story, listen to the rallies and see photos here.

This morning the Homegrown Justice folks accused the Judge Bus people of calling on Iowans to vote all 74 judges off the bench.  During the half-hour-long news conference near the Judge Bus, Congressman Steve King said no one in that movement was making such a call, but the Iowa Independent reports  Chuck Hurley of the Iowa Family Policy Centersent out an email last week urging Iowans to vote against all judges on the ballot, not just the three Iowa Supreme Court justices.  Hurley was not among those who spoke at the Des Moines Judge Bus rally, but he spoke at its stop in Atlantic.  Hurley told the crowd the Supreme Court had “usurped” or “arrogated” power that “was not rightfully theirs.”

Senator Tom Harkin attended this morning’s Fair Courts for US rally and talked with reporters afterwards.  “Iowans just have to realize what a dangerous precipice we’re on with this endeavor to remove these judges,” Harkin said. His wife, Ruth, is among those who’ll be on the “Homegrown Justice” tour.

Congressman King was the master of ceremonies for this morning’s Judge Bus event, urging “no” votes on all three justices.  “Don’t let ’em try to tell you that somehow this upsets the system in such a way that we would have a scrambled Department of Justice,” King said. “They have scrambled it and you have a right to fire them.” 

Texas Congressman Louie Gohmert, a former judge, spoke at the Des Moines rally after King.  Gohmert told the crowd he read the Varnum v Brien ruling last night.  “Now, they could have stopped at 64, 65 — but they had to get to 69.”  The ruling is 69 pages long.

The weekend wrap-up

A bunch of newspapers have issued endorsements in the race for governor.  If you subscribe to an Iowa newspaper, turn to the editorial page and check for yourself.  Branstad got the endorsement of The Cedar Rapids Gazette last weekend, along with editorial page endorsements from The Dubuque Telegraph-Herald, The Fort Dodge Messenger and The Sioux City Journal this weekend.  Culver got the endorsements of The Des Moines Register, The Ottumwa Courier and The Mason City Globe-Gazette.

Two legislative leaders were on Iowa Press this weekend.  Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal (D-Council Bluffs) and House Minority Leader Kraig Paulsen (R-Hiawatha) say they were surprised by Farm Bureau opposition to the land and water legacy amendment; they don’t think the judicial retention will have much “up ballot” impact and they both think quicker disclosure of campaign donations is a good idea and do-able. Neither would offer specific predictions on House/Senate make-up in January.  And neither, by the way, have ideas to share about how they’d organize a constitutional convention if voters decide to have one.

Democrats have been raising money online to air this attack ad against Senator Grassley.  Meanwhile, Grassley’s campaign ridiculed Grassley opponent Roxanne Conlin for her “meager” fundraising report.

Vice President Biden is scheduled to headline a rally in Dubuque on Friday for Congressman Bruce Braley (D-Waterloo).  Details just released Sunday afternoon:

[Read more…]

The 2010 Jefferson-Jackson Day program (Audio)

“We aren’t going back,” Iowa Democratic Party chairwoman Sue Dvorsky just told the crowd as she concluded her opening remarks at 7:42 p.m.  There was a delay in the program’s launch this evening, due to a false alarm.  Party officials say 1400 tickets were sold for the 2010 Iowa Democratic Party’s Jefferson-Jackson Day Dinner.  There are tables set for a little less than 1200, however.

The night’s cash haul?  “We have broken $300,00o,” Dvorsky announced to the crowd.

What follows is a live blog of the evening.

Congressman Bruce Braley (D-Waterloo) was the first elected official to speak.  I don’t recognize the music they played as Braley makes his way on stage.  (Braley staffer emailed to say it was “No Sleep ‘Til Brooklyn” by the Beastie Boys.  Braley grew up in Brooklyn, Iowa.)  “In 2006, we gave them hope.  In 2008, we gave them change and in 2010 we’re going to give them hell.  We’re just going to speak truth to lies and speak truth to fear and they’re going to think it’s hell when they’re listening to it,” Braley said to open his remarks.

Braley next said the pundits who are predicting November 2 will be “doomsday for Democrats” are wrong.  “We are at our best when we are standing together, fighting for what we believe in…and that’s why Democrats are going to win all over this state on November 2.”

[Read more…]