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August 6th, 2010

Vander Plaats Says No to Independent Gubernatorial Run – Now Focuses On Ousting Supreme Court Justices

Former Republican gubernatorial candidate Bob Vander Plaats announced today that he will not run as an independent candidate for governor this fall.  Vander Plaats made the announcement in the shadows of the Iowa Supreme Court building this morning.

“I’m here today to say that I will not be seeking an independent run for governor because I am focused on the future of our state and maintaining our freedoms,” Vander Plaats said. “For too long, we’ve allowed the courts to overstep their authority and there was no clearer example of that than the April 3, 2009 decision by the Iowa Supreme Court on same-sex marriage. The issues of separation of power and judicial activism are important to me and my followers and that’s why we’re going to work to restore the balance between the branches of our government,” Vander Plaats told the media and a handful of supporters who attended the press conference.

While Vander Plaats ended the speculation that he was mulling an independent run, he’s not leaving the political arena.  In fact, he’s reengaging in it.

Vander Plaats also announced that he would be leading the statewide effort to oust the three Iowa Supreme Court Justices who will face a retention vote in the November’s election.  Chief Justice Marsha Ternus, Justice Michael Streit, and Justice David Baker are the three justices that will face the retention vote this year.

The judicial retention process has been in place in Iowa since 1962, and never has a Supreme Court Justice been removed from office.   Since switching to the retention process, only four judges have been removed, all based on their personal conduct.

The political environment is ripe for a coordinated campaign to oust one or more of the three Justices up for retention this year.  While the Court’s unanimous decision in Varnum v. Brien is the motivational factor behind Vander Plaats’ new initiative, there are a number of other reasons for voting no on retention this year that will likely be discussed as Election Day approaches.

For Vander Plaats, his new initiative is a natural fit.  While he refused to publically back Terry Branstad’s gubernatorial campaign, his new endeavor will likely keep some of his passionate supporters engaged in this fall’s election.  The move also helps Vander Plaats remain relevant and in the conversation when other political opportunities present themselves in the future.

Regardless of the political environment, ousting any member of the Court would send a resounding message to the Court and the legal community.  In our recent poll, asked a series of questions about social issues and specifically questions about retention.  We will release the results of that poll early next week.

Video from this morning’s press conference will appear below later today.

Carolyn Jenison, the Executive Director of One Iowa Responds to Vander Plaats

Photo by Dave Davidson

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About the Author

Craig Robinson
Craig Robinson serves as the founder and Editor-in-Chief of Prior to founding Iowa's largest conservative news site, Robinson served as the Political Director of the Republican Party of Iowa during the 2008 Iowa Caucuses. In that capacity, Robinson planned and organized the largest political event in 2007, the Iowa Straw Poll, in Ames, Iowa. Robinson also organized the 2008 Republican caucuses in Iowa, and was later dispatched to Nevada to help with the caucuses there. Robinson cut his teeth in Iowa politics during the 2000 caucus campaign of businessman Steve Forbes and has been involved with most major campaigns in the state since then. His extensive political background and rolodex give him a unique perspective from which to monitor the political pulse of Iowa.

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