Blast from the Past: Ten Years since Stanley Election
History lesson: It was ten years ago today that Iowans went to the polls in a statewide special election, as Republicans overplayed their hand in the dawning days of the Vilsack Administration.
The GOP still controlled both halves of the Legislature, despite Vilsack's win, and the governor plays no role in the constitutional amendment process. So they rushed through the second passage of two constitutional amendments backed by Iowans for Tax Relief, that took caps on taxation and spending that were already in the law and locked them into the Constitution. Colloquially, these were known as "the Stanley Amendments" after Iowans for Tax Relief leader, and former U.S. Senate contender, David Stanley.
But rather than putting them on the 2000 presidential ballot, the Republicans scheduled a hurry-up statewide special election for June 29, 1999. It was the first statewide special since we voted on liquor by the drink in the Harold Hughes era. Two ideas: 1) They wanted to get the spending caps in place immediately for Fiscal Year 2000 2) a special election the Tuesday before the holiday weekend equals low turnout.
The GOP geared up a presidential-level vote by mail campaign, but Democrats and labor were quick to respond. The special election itself, and its cost, became an issue. To everyone's surprise, both amendments went down to narrow defeats.