A round of gay marriage-themed robo-calls that direct callers to ask one candidate "what homosexual sex acts she endorses" flooded into the Iowa District 18 Senate race just hours before polls opened today, multiple news outlets are reporting.
The calls are focused on legalized same-sex marriage in Iowa, which many feel is at stake in this and national implications.
Candidates in the special election, Democrat Liz Mathis, who is the target of the calls, and Republican Cindy Golding have denied involvement, according to reports by the Cedar Rapids Gazette and KGAN. Groups supporting those campaigns have also said they aren't behind the robo-calls and are calling for an investigation.
Many are watching this race, which could tip the balance of political power in the state by breaking a one-seat Democrat majority in the senate. A GOP win could re-open debate on a number of controversial issues, including gay marriage, worker rights and nuclear energy. The outcome in this fairly balanced district -- with more registered independent voters than Democrats or Republicans -- could also signal the heading into the 2012 election.
Did you receive one of the calls? Tell us what you thought of it in the comment section and weigh in in the poll.
Multiple sources told the Gazette that the calls ask, “Did you know Liz Mathis endorses gay marriage, and if she endorses gay marriage she must endorse gay sex? Call Liz Mathis … and ask her which gay sex acts she endorses.”
Andrea Jilovec told KGAN, "I was shocked, I was dismayed, and I think it's one of the worst phone calls I have ever received."
The Mathis campaign released a statement saying, "I am proud that we have run a positive, issue-oriented campaign. That's why it is so disappointing that my opponents have launched a last-minute, anonymous attack that is hurtful and false."
A Golding spokesman told the Gazette, "It's a distraction, it’s disturbing and disgusting." And Brian Brown, president of the National Organization for Marriage, which has spent money on Golding's behalf, called it a “dirty trick” and "offensive." Those groups want the calls investigated.
The candidates have attempted to keep the race focused on local issues, but that hasn't held back attention and money from around the state and nation.
The race itself kicked off after what some see as a political move, Republican Governor Terry Brandstad's appointment of Democrat Swati Dandekar to a lucrative seat on the Iowa Utilities Board. This prompted Dandekar to resign, which created an opportunity for Republicans to draw to a tie in the senate.
Polls close tonight at 8 p.m., and results are expected to start rolling in shortly after.