Bob Vander Plaats fired the opening salvo of the 2010 Republican gubernatorial campaign yesterday. In his crosshairs was Chris Rants, the former Speaker of the Iowa House and current member of the Iowa House of Representatives, who is drumming up support for a gubernatorial campaign of his own.
Vander Plaats launched his attack while doing an interview with Bill Salier who is filling in for Jan Mickelson on WHO Radio. Vander Plaats said that, if elected, he would sign an executive order banning same sex marriage that would allow people the opportunity to vote on the controversial issue.
Rants has made statements saying that the Governor doesn’t have the authority to overrule the court with just an executive order, but has vowed to fight to bring a marriage amendment to the people for a vote. Rants successfully passed the marriage amendment in the House while he was Speaker and played a critical role in bringing the issue to a vote in that chamber this past legislative session.
Vander Plaats said, “With all due respect to Representative Rants, I believe that’s the kind of leadership that’s brought us from being the majority in the state to being the minority in the state. When you give complete power over to the Supreme Court, you’ll have tyranny not liberty.”
Vander Plaats also told those in attendance at his event with Mike Huckabee last week that he “would be the Governor who would sign the executive order to let people vote on marriage.”
A number of people in addition to Rants have questioned the legality of Vander Plaats’ use of an executive order as a way to ban gay marriage. Many people believe that an executive order would simply create a legal battle between the state Supreme Court and the Governor if Vander Plaats is elected. Other Republicans instead want to focus their efforts on passing a marriage amendment through the legislative process.
It is interesting that Vander Plaats has chosen to attack Rants before he has officially entered the race. Longtime GOP activist Bob Haus believes that both candidates would be better served to focus on Governor Culver’s terrible tenure thus far.
“These two candidates should remember that Chet Culver is the target, not each other. While they argue over the separation of powers, Iowans are being separated from their jobs, and taxpayers are being buried in debt. No executive order will stop the tsunami of red ink heading our way. Only replacing Chet Culver will,” Haus said.
While Vander Plaats has sought the GOP gubernatorial nomination twice before, this is the first time he has been in the position of the frontrunner and the first time he has really gone on the offensive against a primary opponent in this cycle. This is especially interesting given that this particular primary opponent has yet to officially announce his campaign.
With the first shot now fired in the GOP gubernatorial campaign, it’s safe to say that the intensity of the campaign is about to reach another level.
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