I wasn’t able to be at the Two Days for Marriage event sponsored by the Iowa Family Policy Center as part of their LUV Iowa campaign.  I ended up having a conflict at work that prevented me from being present at that event.  I had heard that Bob Vander Plaats received an endorsement from Iowa Family Policy Center ACTION PAC.  I learned secondhand yesterday when at the Iowa Statehouse that it was at the Two Days of Marriage event held on Tuesday.

This is disappointing for a couple of different reasons.

First, it diminished, I believe, the message of supporting traditional marriage which we should desire to be a non-partisan issue.  We should want Republicans, Democrats, and Independents to get involved with this movement.  Based on the knowledge that 70% of Iowans want to vote on that there is support across the spectrum.  Iowa Family Policy Center, in my opinion, hurt this cause by their ill-timed endorsement.

It also was likely an awkward situation for those who attended who were not there to support Vander Plaats.  Those who came out to take a stand for marriage, but perhaps support a different candidate, suddenly found themselves appearing to also support Vander Plaats.

I thought perhaps this was a case of miscommunication, perhaps the organizers of this event didn’t realize that Danny Carroll was going to make that announcement and that they were surprised.  So I gave Bryan English at Iowa Family Policy Center a call to ask.  He told me that they were not originally planning on making announcement at the Capitol rally.  They had planned on holding a press conference last week, but that was cancelled due to the snow storm that rolled in last week.  Holding a separate event, English told me, would have been difficult in terms of media and supporter turnout.  Because of the endorsement he told me that the rally was paid for by their PAC, not Iowa Family Policy Center.

I understand the logistical concerns, but was there a reason this announcement needed to be made right away?  It couldn’t wait a few weeks?  They should have waited to endorse so the full attention would be on working toward a marriage amendment.

Secondly I’m disappointed because there are other great candidates running.  Both Representative Rod Roberts and Representative Chris Rants are solidly supportive of traditional marriage.  In their endorsement, IFPC said of those candidates:

In addition to finding a candidate we can support in Bob Vander Plaats, we have enjoyed getting to know several of the other candidates. While each has a desire to serve, there are lingering concerns about them and their ability to lead with the principles and boldness Iowa needs.

For instance, Representative Rod Roberts has been a consistently reliable vote in support of righteousness during his time in the Iowa House. He understands the need to honor God with his service, but seems to have more of a legislator’s temperament than that of an executive. As a member of the Republican Caucus in the House, Representative Roberts can be counted on to interject godly counsel and to cast principled votes. He has not, however, demonstrated the bold resolve and drive necessary to successfully confront those in leadership positions who actively promote wrong-doing in Iowa. While Representative Roberts is not our choice for Governor, he is a man who will be difficult to replace in the Iowa House, and we urge him to consider the greater good of the State and run for reelection.

Representative Christopher Rants has been perhaps the most surprising of the candidates in the GOP field. He has proven that he has a gift for the creative use of procedure to promote policy. His confrontation with Democrat opposition to the Iowa Marriage Amendment on the floor of the Iowa House last year was a showcase for the talent he possesses. We are encouraged by the spirit and enthusiasm with which Representative Rants engaged our group, and while we do not believe that this is the right time to elevate him to the office of Governor, we look for God to grow and use him for great things in the future. Unfortunately, his lengthy legislative record, his history in House leadership, and his past willingness to pursue questionable political pragmatism will take more time to overcome than this primary race allows.

Basically their support boils down to this – what is considered “boldness.”  Of these three candidates, Vander Plaats is the only one who has said he would issue an executive order in regards to the same-sex marriage ruling.  A move that I believe is not only foolish, but likely unconstitutional.  Both Roberts and Rants have significant experience which Vander Plaats does not.  I also have confidence that both could govern well.  I do not have the same confidence in Bob Vander Plaats.  Both Rants and Roberts have addressed fiscal and budget issues in a way that I could support, Vander Plaats has not.  Vander Plaats seems to be focused on making statements regarding federal issues, and garnering out-of-state endorsements which makes me wonder why he didn’t run for Senate in 2008 against Harkin rather than Governor now?

I share IFPC’s concern about Terry Branstad:

While Representative Rants was the most surprising candidate, former Governor Terry Branstad was the most disappointing. With a 16 year record as Iowa’s Governor, much is known about who he is and how he would govern. For instance, Iowa faced financial challenges similar to today’s when Branstad first became Governor. His answers to those problems included growing government, raising taxes, legalizing gambling, and keeping what State Auditor Dick Johnson referred to as “two sets of books.” He did demonstrate pro-family support at times, like helping to de-criminalize home schooling, fighting rampant “no-fault” divorce, and helping produce pro-marriage public service announcements. Still, significant portions of his record cause Christians serious concern, such as approving immoral “Human Growth & Development” sex education (which is used by Planned Parenthood and others to promote abortion and homosexuality), allowing homosexual advances in his Dept. of Human Services, appointing pro-homosexual Supreme Court Justices who unconstitutionally try to legislate from the bench, and opening Iowa to the ravages of gambling.

Branstad also brings with him a loyalty to long term political partners that seems to trump his loyalty to Biblical principles and the people of Iowa. He continues to refuse to publicly distance himself from his former Lt. Governor Joy Corning, even when she blatantly promotes and defends abortion on demand, state sanctioned sodomy, and the evil that has been loosed on the state as a result. When his former Chief of Staff, Doug Gross, chastised those of us who desire to see Biblical principles promoted in politics and public policy, Terry Branstad was silent. He needs to understand that Christians are tired of being poked in the eye by political elites and then being told to “go along and get along.” He appears to lack an understanding of the deeply important principles that current policies threaten, or at the very least seems to lack the fervor necessary to address them.

I also am troubled by Gross and Corning.  I could completely support Iowa Family Policy Center making a statement of non-support for the Branstad campaign sharing that they would not endorse him if he were the Republican nominee.  But there are two other excellent candidates, who in my opinion, would make a far better governor than Bob Vander Plaats. 

They are certainly well within their rights to make an endorsement, but they should have waited.

Additional Thoughts: I thought I would add that I really appreciate the work that IFPC does, and I treasure the friendship that I have with the brothers in Christ that I know there.  I also believe that they made the decision they feel is best for Iowa.  I just happen to disagree.  I also want to add that while Bob Vander Plaats wouldn’t be my top choice in the primary he will have my support if he should win the nomination.

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  1. I agree, for the most part, with your assessment. The combining of the marriage rally with the endorsement announcement was offensive to many supporters of the marriage issue and, I’m afraid, further marginalized the organization.

    I’m a big fan of many individuals at IFPC. I respect and love them dearly. But this was a bizarre move on many levels. I understand how loyal they are to a former employee (Bob Vander Plaats), but their zeal for him may have endangered good strategic relationships. Hopefully they are bridges that can be repaired easily.

  2. As someone that interviewed some, not all, of the candidates, it was blantantly obvious who deserved the endorsement. Chris Rants is a good guy and seems to be motivated by principle not politics, a change over the 10+ years I’ve known him. But for me, he’s not there yet. Rod Roberts is a great guy too but frankly, he isn’t a leader of the caliber we need at the helm of the state. What public policy has he influenced people on? What agenda item has his name and face on? I can’t think of anything. I see him as a great support person but not someone leading the charge. His speaking ability is lacking. His political ideas on how to lead the state out of the mess we are in aren’t evident.

    Bob on the other hand is not perfect but he has been willing to hold himself accountable to Godly men and women. I personally have challenged him on a couple of personal issues and he has taken the counsel to heart and made changes. Politically, Bob seems to have a plan on more than just the marriage issue.

    If you want to question the timing of the endorsement, we were stuck between a rock and a hard place. We wanted to make the endorsement the week prior but weather prevented it. We had to make a decision and I feel we made the right one. Linking Bob with the marriage amendment doesn’t take away from anything. IFPC Action can walk and chew gum at the same time. We can endorse our candidates and work on the amendment. But this state needs leadership, and Iowa Family Policy Center Action is seeking to follow our biblical convictions. And for us, after prayerful consideration we have concluded that Bob represents our core values to a higher level and deserves our support. He’s been fighting for conservative, biblical principles for the last 10 years when he was first encouraged to run by Terry Branstad. He deserves our support.

  3. Mike – There is a comment on the new post with your response in it that sums up well questions many of us have: why endorse before giving Roberts and Rants more time to see if they drop out? Why insult Roberts and Rants publicly by explaining why they are NOT your endorsed candidate? And the commenter asks the critical question of why the speaker before Danny Carroll didn’t just say that the rally was over, thank everyone for coming, and invite those in attendance to stick around for an IFPC Action announcement by Danny Carroll? This would have avoided offending non-Vander Plaats supporters in attendance.

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