Iowa Conservatives Launch Next Campaign to Oust Judge

By Julie Bolcer

Originally published on Advocate.com August 12 2012 10:26 AM ET

The group of conservative activists that removed three judges over the marriage equality ruling two years ago launched their campaign against a fourth target Saturday with help from Rick Santorum and the National Organization for Marriage.

The WCF Courier reports on the effort headed by Bob Vander Plaats, a former gubernatorial candidate and president of the Family Leader. He unveiled the new campaign from Iowans for Freedom at the Family Leader’s Family Leadership Summit at Point of Grace church near Des Moines, where he was joined by conservative leaders including Santorum and Brian Brown of NOM.

The Courier reports that Brown pledged his organization would match up to $100,000 for the campaign in the next two weeks. The group spent around $600,000 in 2010 to remove three state Supreme Court justices who voted for the unanimous court ruling that made same-sex marriage legal in 2009, according to HRC.

This year, as a recent letter from the state Republican Party chairman A.J. Spiker declared, the target is Justice David Wiggins. Spiker called on Iowans to “help end the bullying of activist judges once and for all” by ousting Wiggins on November 6.

National guests at the launch event also included Chick-fil-A defender Mike Huckabee, Texas governor Rick Perry, and Republican presidential nominee runner-up Rick Santorum, who narrowly won the Iowa caucus this year. The former U.S. Senator, who founded the new Patriot Voices PAC, was active in the first effort to oust the judges.

Unlike 2010, however, Wiggins has backing from a bipartisan group of advocates including two former lieutenant governors who want to see him retained, according to the Associated Press. Wiggins has also shown an inclination to fight for himself publicly, something his ousted former colleagues avoided.

Caffeinated Thoughts, a conservative Christian news site, reports that Vander Plaats will serve as state chair of the ouster campaign, with Iowa National Committeewoman-elect Tamara Scott as state co-chair. Chuck Laudner, a former campaign manager for Rep. Steve King, will serve as special advisor, with Greg Baker as executive director. Congressman King, who recently spearheaded an amendment to affirm the Defense of Marriage Act, also attended the launch event, according to the site.

The WCF Courier reports that Vander Plaats acknowledged the 2012 campaign would be more difficult than two years ago. Polling indicates that the majority of Iowans do not want to repeal marriage equality, and even conservative voters view the issue as a low priority compared to the economy.