Republican gubernatorial candidate Terry Branstad does not plan to play a role in the campaign to oust three Iowa Supreme Court justices who are on the November ballot in a retention election.  

Branstad’s campaign spokesman says Branstad respects the “secret ballot” and will leave it up to Iowans to decide whether to vote yes or no on the justices.  Bob Vander Plaats, the Republican Branstad beat in the June 8th Primary, is heading up an effort to unseat the justices because of the court’s ruling on gay marriage. 

Vander Plaats and a few of his supporters gathered in Des Moines yesterday for a news conference. A reporter asked Vander Plaats about Branstad’s decision to stay out of the fight over the justices.

“My response to that is I am going to take a stand and I think there are a lot of other people that are going to take a stand and they’re going to let their voices be heard,” Vander Plaats said, to applause from his supporters.

Vander Plaats did not directly criticize Branstad, however. “Every individual is free to respond in a manner in which they choose, so if that’s his choice, that’s his choice,” Vander Plaats said. “But we are going to take a stand. We’re stepping intentionally into the cross-hairs of this battle and of this fight because we believe it is worth fighting and it is worthwhile winning, not only to restore traditional marriage but to restore our separation of powers as well.”

Vander Plaats was then asked how Branstad’s stand may impact the November election. “You know, I don’t know,” Vander Plaats replied.  “I am out of that race, so I’m not sure it’s fair for me to comment on that.”

After the 2009 Iowa Supreme Court ruling which paved the way for gay marriage in Iowa, Vander Plaats promised that if were elected governor he’d issue an executive order suspending gay marriage until Iowans can vote on a constitutional amendment which would ban it. During yesterday’s news conference Vander Plaats said he wants to talk with the winner of November’s election and try to convince them to follow his plan.