Rev. Ratliff with Governor Culver

I was visiting with Chuck Hurley of the Iowa Family Policy Center this evening as our boys played flag football.  He asked me if I heard “the news” today… I hadn’t been keeping up with the news today.  He told me that Pastor Keith Ratliff of Maple Street Baptist Church in Des Moines endorsed Bob Vander Plaats for Governor.

If you don’t know who Keith Ratliff is, you may be thinking… so?

He is a lifelong Democrat, an influential leader within the African-American community, and the President of the Iowa/Nebraska State NAACP.  That’s big.

Tom Beaumont of the Des Moines Register reports:

Keith Ratliff, president of the Iowa-Nebraska chapter of the NAACP, endorsed Republican gubernatorial candidate Bob Vander Plaats today, citing the Sioux City businessman’s position on the same-sex marriage debate as “an important factor.”

“It’s an important factor,” Ratliff said during a morning news conference with Vander Plaats. “There’s no doubt about it, it’s an important factor.”

Ratliff, pastor of the Maple Street Missionary Baptist Church in Des Moines, has been an outspoken critic of the Iowa Supreme Court’s decision in April legalizing gay marriage in the state.

Vander Plaats has said he would issue an executive order staying same-sex marriages in Iowa until voters had the opportunity to vote on a referendum to amend the Iowa Constitution. None of the other half-dozen GOP gubernatorial prospects have echoed Vander Plaats’ call for an executive order.

Ratliff, a registered Democrat, said there were other factors in his decision, such as his dissatisfaction with Gov. Chet Culver’s progress fixing discriminatory hiring practices unearthed under his predecessor, Gov. Tom Vilsack. Both Culver and Vilsack are Democrats.

“I believe marriage is between one man and one woman,” Ratliff said. “But I also feel there are many other issues that have to be addressed.”

Here’s the rub, I have my doubts about how influential Ratliff will be in the primary race.  This endorsement though could have enormous play in the general election should Vander Plaats win the nomination.  Needless to say if Pastor Ratliff is an indicator of the sentiment in the African-American community toward the Culver administration, Governor Chet Culver should be concerned.

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