FILE PHOTO: Bob Vander Plaats speaks on behalf of Republican presidential candidate, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum at the Black Hawk County Republican caucuses site at the UNI-Dome Tuesday, Jan. 3, 2012, in Cedar Falls, Iowa. (BRANDON POLLOCK/ Courier Staff Photographer)


DES MOINES --- Conservative activist Bob Vander Plaats announced an effort Saturday to defeat Iowa Supreme Court Justice David Wiggins in the Nov. 6 judicial retention vote.

Vander Plaats spearheaded a similar effort that successfully sent a trio of justices packing two years ago for their role in the same issue that earned Wiggins the target — the 2009 decision that paved the way for same-sex marriage in Iowa.

“This is about freedom, not just about marriage,” Vander Plaats said in unveiling Iowans for Freedom’s campaign to oust Wiggins during the sold-out Family Leader’s Family Leadership Summit that drew 1,000 activists to the Point of Grace church.

“We see this as a freedom and constitutional issue important to all Iowans. If courts are allowed to redefine the institution of marriage, every one of the liberties we hold dear is in jeopardy.”

Brian Brown of the National Organization for Marriage pledged his group would provide a match of up to $100,000 to contributions that are made during the next two weeks in the campaign against Wiggins.

Greg Baker, who will serve as the campaign’s executive director, said, “We will run a very focused and grassroots advocacy movement destined to produce similar or better results than the 2010 effort.”

Vander Plaats, the head of the Family Leader who previously ran three unsuccessful bids for the GOP gubernatorial nomination, acknowledged that the 2012 effort to defeat Wiggins will be tougher than the successful 2010 campaign.

He again called for the four justices who are still on the bench who participated in the gay marriage ruling to step down, but he doubted that would happen because they continue to exhibit “a thread of judicial arrogance.”

He said the 2012 campaign will be targeted at defeating Wiggins but not removing the three justices also up for retention who Branstad appointed to replace the three removed in 2010.

“We’re not going after those three. We will know this effort is successful if we just vote out Wiggins but nobody else,” Vander Plaats said.

The announcement came on a day when summit participants heard rally cries for conservative and Republican causes from Texas Gov. Rick Perry, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, U.S. Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, U.S. Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, who originated his FOX cable network television show from the Waukee church on Saturday evening.

Perry drew applause and laughter when he jokingly told the 1,000 summit attendees: “I tell folks that my mouth may probably be the biggest reason I was the shortest-lived front-runner in the history of a presidential campaign.

“Y’all remember that. I was the front-runner in the presidential campaign,” he noted, pausing to add, “It was one of the most exhilarating three hours of my life.”

While in Iowa last week, Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman-Schultz called Saturday’s summit a collection of failed GOP candidates for president “who are all singing off the same song sheet and that song sheet is that we should make sure that people who are already doing very well can do even better. They have nothing to offer to Iowa voters.”


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