OSCEOLA — Gov. Kim Reynolds kicked off her election campaign Wednesday asking Iowans to join her effort to “pass on an Iowa greater than the one we inherited … where the norm is unleashing opportunity.”
Reynolds, who was elevated from lieutenant governor to Iowa’s 43rd governor in May 2017 when Terry Branstad stepped down to become ambassador to China, kicked off her campaign for a full four-year term at the Clarke County Fairgrounds in front of friends and supporters.
As she often does, Reynolds emphasized her belief that Iowa “is — and must remain — a place where, if you’re willing to work for it, you can make your dreams come true.”
Recalling her Iowa bona fides of playing six-on-six high school basketball, waitressing at the Younkers Department Store and working as a checker at Hy-Vee to make ends meet while she and her husband, Kevin, raised three girls in Osceola, Reynolds, 58, offered herself as an example of that if-you-can-dream-it ethic that has served Iowa so well.
The governor praised small, tight-knit communities like Osceola that represent the best of Iowa and its people.”
“We’re Republicans. We like her stances on most things, don’t we?” Doris Book asked her husband, Jerry.
“I suppose,” the retired teacher said. He suggested Reynolds look to Missouri for a model for youth and mental health services.
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“We can’t take the cuts to mental health,” added Doris, who works with special needs adults.
Gary Petersohn of Tingley, who gave Reynolds high marks for getting a water quality bill passed early this legislative session, now wants to see her “maintain our schools, the roads, infrastructure.”
“And mental health,” his wife, Teena, added. “It’s improving. We didn’t have anything.”
Iowans’ work ethic and commitment to common priorities are largely responsible for Iowa recently being named by U.S. News and World Report as the No. 1 state in the nation based on 70 metrics including education, infrastructure and health care.
But Reynolds said she’s not resting on the accomplishments of her nine months as governor and six-and-half years as lieutenant governor.
“The status quo isn’t where we stop,” Reynolds said. “It’s where we turn the page and begin an even better chapter in Iowa’s history.”
Reynolds’ story has had several chapters from her start in public service, first as a clerk in the Clarke County Treasurer’s Office and then as the elected county treasurer. Later, she was elected to the Iowa Senate and in 2010, when Branstad ran for a fifth terms as governor, he selected her to be his lieutenant governor. They were re-elected in 2014.
Now she’s running for her own term. To get the GOP nomination, she has to get past a challenge from former Cedar Rapids Mayor Ron Corbett.
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He welcomed her with a challenge to debate eight times to contrast “how my bold ideas rooted in conservative values differ from her top-down decision-making style and liberal spending and borrowing.”
Democrats were less welcoming, saying that in Reynolds’ brief tenure “too many Iowans have already been left in the dust by her self-serving ‘leadership.’”
“Come November, Democrats will show this state what real, public-serving leadership looks like, and Gov. Reynolds will be looking for a new job,” said party Chairman Chair Troy Price.
Iowa Republicans expect the race to be competitive but were quick to point out Iowa wasn’t included on NBC’s list of top 10 gubernatorial races to watch.
“Maybe it’s because Iowa Democrats don’t have a positive vision for Iowa.” Republican Party of Iowa spokesman Jesse Dougherty said.
That Democratic field includes union President Cathy Glasson, former agriculture official and Federal Energy Regulatory Commission member John Norris, Sen. Nate Boulton, former Iowa Democratic Party chairwoman Andy McGuire, former Des Moines school board President Jon Neiderbach, Iowa State University diversity officer Ross Wilburn and Des Moines businessman Fred Hubbell.
Reynolds brings her campaign to Marion with a 2:15 p.m. Thursday stop at Legacy Manufacturing, 6509 Partners Ave.
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