The spokesman for the effort to vote three Iowa Supreme Court justices off the bench predicts there’ll be a “complete sweep” for Iowa Republicans this November because conservative Iowans have been energized by the judicial retention election.

“Iowa for Freedom” spokesman Bob Vander Plaats says Iowans motivated to vote “no” on the three justices because of the court’s 2009 ruling on gay marriage will likely vote for Republican candidates up and down the ballot.  “I think the reason you’re going to see a complete sweep here on November 2 has a lot to do with April 3, 2009, because a (Democratic) governor did nothing about it, a (Democratic) legislature did nothing about it and, obviously, the court is rallying around themselves to protect this little process. I think you’re going to see a clean house,” Vander Plaats says.

“So a message is going to be sent, new leadership is going to be in charge and I think they’re going to expect a leader to lead at that point.”

Vander Plaats ran for governor, but lost in the June Primary to fellow Republican Terry Branstad.  Vander Plaats sugggests that if Branstad wins another term as governor, he’ll feel the pressure of the judicial retention election. “Our focus is: ‘Vote these three justices off the bench,'” Vander Plaats says. “And I think Governor Branstad has to read into that.  He has to read: ‘where are the people at?’ on that issue.”

The centerpiece of Vander Plaats’ campaign for governor was a pledge to issue an executive order that would forbid same-sex marriages in Iowa until Iowans have a chance to vote on a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage here.  Branstad has not embraced that tactic. 

Vander Plaats was at Iowa Public Television this morning to tape this evening’s edition of the “Iowa Press” program.  Des Moines lawyer Mark McCormick, a former Iowa Supreme Court justice, was on the program, defending the targeted justices. “At a time when everybody in polling says we ought to be worried about our economy and worried about jobs, what these folks are doing is trying to put people out of work and disrupt, potentially, our (court) system,” McCormick told reporters after the show was taped. “…These folks ought to be talking about jobs and the economy instead of this social issue, which overrides everything else, in their judgment.”

Iowa for Freedom has been running ads since mid-September, urging Iowans to vote no on the justices.  Groups supporting the justices didn’t start running ads until this month. Over half a million Iowans have already voted, and that’s a concern to McCormick.

“I am worried that these folks had such a head start, particularly with the media — with their attack ads and publicity,” McCormick said. “I voted absentee and I know a lot of other folks have and I’m hopeful that the message from Bob Ray and others will have gotten out in time.” Former Republican Governor Bob Ray has recorded two ads which urge Iowans to vote yes on the justices.

“Iowa Press” airs tonight at 7:30 on Iowa Public Television.