Mike Pence @ Iowa F&F banquet

Indiana Congressman Mike Pence is this evening’s keynote speaker for the Iowa Faith & Freedom Coalition banquet.  It’s part of a reallignment of the old Christian Coalition.  The Iowa Christian Coalition renamed itself the Iowa Christian Alliance in 2006, and when Ralph Reed launched the national Faith & Freedom Coalition last year, the Iowa Christian Alliance allied itself with Reed’s group.

What follows is a live blog of the event.

Gopal Krishna is the master of ceremonies this evening and he joked with the crowd about the process of becoming a naturalized citizen, then Krishna offered a top ten list for immigrants, beginning with “speak English” and also including:  “If God offends you, we suggest you consider some other part of the world as your new home.”

Krishna introduced the statewide GOP candidates who are in the crowd, including GOP lieutenant governor nominee Kim Reynolds (Terry Branstad is not here).

Third district congressional candidate Brad Zaun, a Republican from Urbandale, was allowed to speak to the crowd.  “You have probably turned on the TV and you’ve seen some personal attacks on me that have been taken out of context,” Zaun said. “…Congressman Boswell is a nice man…but I feel very passionate about what’s going on and it’s unfortunate about these ads and campaign.  I would challenge Congressman Boswell just one time, in one ad, just give us a solution.”

Zaun gave a very brief speech, mentioning what his living situation will be if he’s elected: “I’m going to get a sofa that folds up to a bed and live in my office.”

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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.

VANDER PLAATS LAUNCHES INITIATIVE TO UNSEAT SUPREME COURT JUSTICES WHO LEGISLATED SAME-SAX MARRIAGE FROM BENCH

Sioux City Businessman Will Not Run for Governor as Independent Candidate

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Third GOP debate is history

The third and final debate among the three Republicans who hope to win the GOP’s 2010 nomination for governor was held over the noonhour today.  (Watch it here.) If this were another era, two of the candidates may have agreed to a duel.  Instead, Sioux City business consultant Bob Vander Plaats and former Governor Terry Branstad engaged in verbal combat.  The third candidate, State Representative Rod Roberts, gave one of the most theatrical eye-rolls I’ve seen as the other two engaged.   Here’s the Radio Iowa story, complete with an account of something that still stopped short of the “You lie!” outburst during President Obama’s 2010 State of the Union message.

The debate was staged in the studio at Iowa Public Television that has an auditorium, but the crowd was asked to sit silently.  The Des Moines Register organized the debate and invited me to be among the three panelists.  As the three candidates stood and we three panelists sat waiting for the show to go on, I asked the three men if they were wearing a lucky tie.  (Getting the candidates to talk helps the sound guy check audio levels, BTW.)  Rod Roberts piped up first, saying he likes to wear either red or pale blue ties, and opted for a tie with a pale blue stripe today.  Terry Branstad — who was wearing a red tie — chimed in, telling about the time several years ago when he wore a certain tie to a debate that was identical to the one being worn by Dean Borg, the “Iowa Press” host who was also one of today’s panelists (and who was host of that other debate years ago).  After the reminiscing about that beloved tie died down, I asked Bpb Vander Plaats about his tie, which was blue and gold striped.   BVP said it was what was in his closet, then added: “going for the gold.”

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Gay marriage the topic of Iowa Press

The guests on this weekend’s edition of “Iowa Press” on Iowa Public Television represent the two sides in the debate over gay marriage in our state. Danny Carroll, a former state legislator from Grinnell, is chairman of the Iowa Family Policy Center’s board of directors.  Brad Clark is campaign manager for “One Iowa.”  IPTV has already posted the video online.

Both men said their respective groups would NOT get involved in the judicial retention elections this November.  (Three of the Supreme Court justices who voted in Varnum v Brien are up for a retention vote in the General Election.)  And both men said it would be a bad idea for Iowans to vote to hold a constitutional convention.

I asked both men to talk about the world view of most Iowans, the accepted social mores here.  “What do you think the general Iowa view is in regards to gay marriage?”

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Republican “possibles” at Sac County GOP gathering

UPDATE:  Read the first Radio Iowa story about the event.  Or, listen to all the speeches.

The time is 8:28 a.m.  I am sitting in a lovely building on the Sac County Fairgrounds, an original  "Chautauqua" building that was constructed in the early 1900s.  This is the site of a Sac County GOP gathering that will feature four men who are considering the idea of running for governor.

SacCity450

Two of them are farther along in the process.  Both Bob Vander Plaats and Christopher Rants, both of Sioux City, have formed "exploratory committees."  Representative Rod Roberts of Carroll and Senator Jerry Behn (pronounced "BAYN") are in the contemplative phase.  Vander Plaats and Rants were first on the scene here, followed by Roberts and Behn,  They've been chatting individually with the folks who have been paying $10 per ticket to attend this breakfast event. 

At 8:33 a.m., a prayer was offered and immediately following the prayer folks started lining up for breakfast. The building is huge, with rows of painted benches as well as picnic tables.  "The media" is stationed at a picnic table near the middle of the hall, near an electrical outlet. In about 20 minutes — at 9 o'clock — each of the four potential candidates will be given a chance to speak (individually) to the crowd.  This is the first time all four have appeared, together.

According to Senator Steve Kettering, a Republican from nearby Lake View, Sac County is a "Republican county."  He says the Sac County GOP had a "pretty good hook" in pledging to share proceeds from the event if one of the four would "formally announce" they're running for governor at this event. 

Kettering, though, considers the 2010 race for the Republican gubernatorial nomination wide open at this point, with "a couple of hands full" of other candidates considering jumping into the race.  "In my judgment, the gubernatorial race has not started," Kettering said moments ago.  "…It's way too early.  Obviously, there are still a couple of hands full of people still talking about it."

There are over 60 people seated now at picnic tables covered by red and blue tablecloths.  They're enjoying a breakfast of egg casserole, fruit and cinnamon rolls. Senator Kettering just showcased his own plate of food for the reporters here, pointing out the cinnamon roll as the "little bit of fun" on his plate.

At 9:07 a.m. the Pledge is recited by the crowd, followed by introduction of county elected officials in the audience as well as GOP precinct chairs.  The emcee is Brian Krause, pastor of the Faith Bible Church in Sac City.  According to Krause, there are about 12,000 residents in Sac County and both Krause and Kettering estimate Republicans comprise about 60 percent of registered voters, with about 40 percent registered as Democrats. 

Krause, by the way, assured the crowd he is not related to Bob Krause, the Democrat who has emerged to challenge Republican US Senator Chuck Grassley's reelection.  "There is nobody in my gene pool who is challenging Chuck Grassley," Brian Krause said.

Senator Behn is first and, after starting a stop watch to adhere to the 15 minute time limit each candidate has been given, he beings with a pledge: "I would spend your money carefully, just like I'll spend your time carefully."

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