DES MOINES | Iowa Democrats called on Republican U.S. Senate candidates to denounce a man they call "intolerant" and "hateful."

Democrats said they take offense with Erick Erickson, a conservative blogger and author, who was selected to moderate the U.S. Senate Family Forum on Friday hosted by the Family Leader, a social conservative organization. Erickson is editor-in-chief of and filled in Tuesday for Rush Limbaugh’s show.

"I’m concerned and troubled that GOP Senate candidates are providing Erick Erickson a high-profile platform this Friday," former Iowa Lt. Gov. Patty Judge said Wednesday morning outside the Iowa Statehouse.

State Sen. Matt McCoy, D-Des Moines, and Iowa Democratic Party Executive Director Troy Price also spoke out against Erickson’s presence at the forum.

They quoted sentiments Erickson has expressed regarding women and his strong opposition to same-sex marriage. McCoy, an openly gay member of the Iowa Legislature, called Erickson a "symbol of backwards, extreme conservative policies" that don’t have a place in a state that has led the way in marriage equality.

"By denouncing Erick Erickson and refusing to endorse his extreme views they’ll (candidates) have an opportunity to demonstrate that no matter what your political affiliation, Iowa values are not based on hate, intolerance or obstructionism," Judge said. "What comes out of Erick Erickson’s mouth is not welcome in our state."

Republican Senate candidates Joni Ernst, Sam Clovis, Mark Jacobs and Matt Whittaker are slated to attend the event.

"I think it’s very curious that the woman in the race would be comfortable in that forum setting, knowing the views of the moderator. I think that alone would be enough to give her pause and for her to reconsider her decision to attend," Judge said. "It would be for me."

Bob Vander Plaats, CEO of the Family Leader, said no candidates have said they are backing out and anticipates Erickson will "do a great job moderating."

He said the forum's focus will not be on Erickson but on what the candidates say during the debate.

"I think we should allow a discussion to take place so that Iowans can be the judge of who should be the next U.S. Senator," Vander Plaats said.

Price said the Iowa Democratic Party plans to protest the forum, which will be at Faith Baptist Bible College in Ankeny.