DES MOINES — The Iowa State Bar Association will kick off a statewide campaign called Yes Iowa Judges this week with planned stops in 19 Iowa communities, including Davenport and Muscatine.
The campaign coincides with another statewide tour sponsored by the Family Leader, which targets Iowa Supreme Court Justice David Wiggins for a “no” on retention. That tour also plans stops next week in the two eastern Iowa cities.
The Family Leader-backed Iowans for Freedom campaign kicks off Monday with a 9 a.m. appearance scheduled by Republican Iowa caucus winner Rick Santorum at the Statehouse.
The bar association’s campaign kickoff is scheduled for the same place and time.
Wiggins is the only one of the four Iowa Supreme Court justices on the ballot in November who participated in the unanimous 2009 Varnum v. Brien decision that legalized same-sex marriage in Iowa.
The other three Supreme Court judges up for retention — Thomas Waterman of Pleasant Valley, Bruce Zager of Waterloo and Edward Mansfield of Des Moines — were appointed in 2011 after three other judges who joined the Varnum decision were ousted on retention votes in the 2010 election.
“Our bi-annual Judicial Performance Evaluation Review of the 74 judges up for retention this year demonstrated that all are well-qualified in the areas important to fair and impartial administration of justice, and should be retained,” Cynthia Moser, ISBA president, said in a news release announcing the campaign. “Our goal is to let Iowans know they can feel confident that their freedoms are being protected, and they should vote yes to retain the judges who provide that protection.”
Both the Iowans for Freedom campaign and the Yes Iowa Judges campaign will use buses wrapped as a rolling billboard in support of their message as they roll through towns.
In addition to the stop by Santorum, the Iowans for Freedom campaign includes a scheduled appearance Wednesday by Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal.
The retention battle also has involved the Iowa Republican Party whose chairman, AJ Spiker, encouraged Iowans to vote against retention, and the nonprofit Justice Not Politics, which supports retention.
Wiggins, meanwhile, has remained relatively mum about the campaign against him except for a newspaper opinion piece he sent out to news organizations in which he wrote he would not set up a campaign organization to keep his position, but asked people to support him.
“I want to keep my job, believe me, but I will not jeopardize the integrity of the Iowa Supreme Court in the process. I hope you will vote ‘Yes’ for me on the back of your ballot in November,” Wiggins wrote. “More importantly, I hope Iowa Supreme Court justices never have to raise money from political donors to ask for your vote.”