by desmoinesdem, Fri Sep 04, 2009 at 06:06:01 AM EDT
This article by Jason Clayworth in Thursday's Des Moines Register was good for a few laughs:
A group opposed to same-sex marriages failed to secure victory for Republicans in Iowa this week, but the massive injection of out-of-state money on the issue foreshadows what's to come in next year's elections, political scholars said Wednesday.
Despite the loss, the National Organization for Marriage succeeded in making gay marriage an issue, the head of the group said Wednesday. He vowed that its "Reclaim Iowa Project" will remain active in the 2010 state elections.
I'm sure "making gay marriage an issue" was just the kind of success the NOM's generous donors (whoever they are) were looking for. Why, Iowans in House district 90 might never have realized same-sex couples could marry if not for the NOM's major ad campaign.
Jeff Boeyink, executive director of the Iowa Republican Party, said many no-party voters Tuesday supported [Stephen] Burgmeier. That was a victory itself, he said.
Voters want the opportunity to vote on the gay marriage issue, he said.
"We moved the needle a lot," Boeyink said. "We didn't get the victory, but we take away some real positives out of this."
Sure, Mr. Boeyink, you "moved the needle a lot." Your candidate, elected three times as a Jefferson County supervisor, lost his own county by more than 600 votes.
The marriage group did not lose the race for Burgmeier, said Chuck Hurley, a former Republican legislator and now president of the Iowa Family Policy Center, a group against gay marriage. He said the issue will be a major topic in the 2010 elections.
"Marriage won the day," Hurley said of the election. "I think it was a huge issue in the campaign."
Yes, Republicans tried to make marriage a huge issue in the campaign while Curt Hanson talked about jobs, economic development and renewable energy. The National Organization for Marriage's television ad used the same kind of rhetoric as the Iowa Family Policy Center's "Let Us Vote" campaign: instead of advocating discrimination against same-sex couples, the ads supported Burgmeier as someone who would "let voters have a say." Well, voters in House district 90 had their say.
I don't want to get too cocky. Tuesday's election could have gone the other way if not for the outstanding GOTV effort by organizers supporting Hanson. But the fact is, a special election a few months after the Iowa Supreme Court ruling went into effect is exactly the kind of race likely to be disproportionately influenced by same-sex marriage. The experience of Vermont and Massachusetts shows that any electoral backlash against supporters of marriage equality was short-lived. If the Iowa Family Policy Center (which designated a staffer to work on Burgmeier's campaign) and nearly $90,000 worth of NOM tv ads couldn't leverage this issue into a victory on Tuesday, I don't think Republicans will get far running against gay marriage 14 months from now.
For a more honest Republican assessment of Tuesday's special election results, read this post by Craig Robinson at The Iowa Republican blog.