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Buying Time 2012: Iowa

This page features Iowa judicial ads of 2012.

Published: October 5, 2012

For information on Iowa’s spending, and all other television spending in state supreme court races, click here.

Iowa has historically been spared the expensive campaigns and mud-slinging attack ads that have been typical in other states’ judicial elections because state Supreme Court justices are initially appointed to the bench.  And while justices must stand for periodic retention elections, these have historically been quiet, low-spending races.  In 2010, however, big changes appeared in Iowa’s normally sedate retention elections.  Following the Iowa Supreme Court’s unanimous 2009 decision striking down the state’s ban on marriage for same-sex couples, interest groups on the right — including the National Organization for Marriage — targeted the three justices up for retention in 2010 and led a campaign that ended in their ouster from the bench.  Those retention contests were the most expensive retention elections in state history.

This year, Justice David Wiggins, who also participated in the marriage decision, was up for retention. Justice Wiggins himself did not fundraiser, but pro- and anti-Wiggins groups spent over $800,000 on the race. Wiggins won the race and maintained his seat on the bench. Three other justices who did not participate in the 2009 marriage decision, Justices Bruce B. Zager, Edward Mansfield, and Thomas Waterman, also won retention elections this year..

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October 29, 2012 – Freedom is an Issue

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An ad by iowans for Freedom saying, “It’s we the people, not we the courts.”

October 3, 2012 – Redifining Marriage

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An ad sponsored by the National Organization of Marriage accusing Justice David Wiggins of redifining marriage.


Lucky Severson, Judicial Elections, PBS Religion and Ethics News Weekly, October 5

Editorial, Politics, Principle and an Attack on the CourtsThe New York Times, September 23, 2012 

Trish Mehaffey, Iowa State Bar Starts Its “Yes Iowa Judges” Statewide Tour Next WeekThe Gazette, September 21, 2012 

Mike Wiser, Justice Wiggins at Center of 2 Bus Tours Across IowaQuad-City Times, September 22, 2012 

Rod Boshart, Santorum, Jindal Join Effort to Oust an Iowa Supreme Court JusticeWaterloo Cedar Falls Courier, September 18, 2012