"It makes it more difficult," concedes Bob Vander Plaats, whose group, the Family Leader, leads the opposition. He said that "with limited resources," it would be harder to get an anti-Wiggins message out as Iowa gets saturated with ads for presidential and congressional races.
The bar's boost for Wiggins comes even though its members like him less than many of his colleagues. A survey conducted by the bar every two years on the performance of judges up for retention found that 63 percent of lawyers believed Wiggins should be retained, second lowest of 74 judges on the ballot. Lawyers gave Wiggins only adequate marks for his temperament and demeanor, and backers concede he can be brusque.
The process of replacing his ousted colleagues also brought Wiggins criticism. He chaired the committee that interviewed candidates and recommended nine finalists, including one woman, to Republican Gov. Terry Branstad. Branstad appointed three white men, making the court one of the only ones in the nation without a female member.
Wiggins is honoring the tradition in which Iowa judges do not campaign. However, he wrote recently in the Register, "I do not want Iowa o end up like states with highly partisan courts. Iowa is better than that."
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