The Republican leader in the Iowa House isn’t sure whether statewide interest in this fall’s judicial retention election will benefit Republican candidates for the legislature. House Republican Leader Kraig Paulsen of Hiawatha describes himself as the “coach” for the dozens of Republicans running for seats in the Iowa House.
“You can create an argument that the environment’s better for us. I think that’s true. You can create an argument that the ballot’s better for us…The truth of the matter is, it does go back to the individual candidates,” Paulsen says. “I have 92 Republicans running across the state of Iowa for those 100 seats. Democrats have 75. My candidates are motivated.”
Senate Democratic Leader Mike Gronstal of Council Bluffs downplays the idea the interest among Republicans in the judicial retention election will have an impact on Democrats running for the legislature. “I don’t know that it’s having a significant impact on that. When it’s all said and done, most judges are retained when those elections are held. I have some confidence that that’s what’s going to happen in this case,” Gronstal says. “It’s interesting and somewhat ironic that the party that says they fear the politics of the courts has decided to directly inject themselves into the politics of the courts.”
Former Republican gubernatorial candidate Bob Vander Plaats is heading up the “Iowa for Freedom” group which is running the campaign to oust the judges because of the court’s ruling on gay marriage. However, former Republican Governor Robert Ray is heading up a separate group urging Iowans to vote yes on the justices, so there’s not a unanimous view among Republicans on the issue.
Gronstal and Paulsen made their comments this morning during taping of the Iowa Public Television program “Iowa Press” which airs tonight at 7:30.