DES MOINES — Gov. Kim Reynolds said Friday that Iowa is on the road to prosperity under Republican control and she hopes voters get that message when they weigh her accomplishments against a Democratic opponent who wants to “reverse everything that we’ve done over the last several years.”
Reynolds pointed to Iowa’s top spot in a U.S. News and World Report ranking of states, its U.S.-leading high school graduation rate, the state’s second-lowest jobless rate in the country and other positives in making her case to be elected in her first statewide bid as a gubernatorial candidate this November.
“I want to continue to build on the momentum we’re seeing. There are positive things happening,” she told a Des Moines Rotary breakfast meeting in touting the state’s balanced budget, improving K-12 test scores and recent growth in Iowans’ personal income.
“What my opponent wants to do is to reverse everything that we’ve done over the last several years,” Reynolds said, lamenting at one point that when Iowans turn on their television sets these days “sometimes you get the impression that Iowa is going to hell in a handbasket, and that is just not true.”
Reynolds’ Democratic opponent, Des Moines businessman Fred Hubbell, has stepped up his criticism of the record of Reynolds and the GOP legislative majority on education funding, tax policy, privatized Medicaid, women’s reproductive rights and collective bargaining for public employees in various campaign appearances.
Earlier this month Hubbell told an Iowa State Fair crowd the “fiscal mismanagement and the misguided priorities” of Republicans in control at the Statehouse were “virtually running our state into the ground” — a trend he said would reverse if elected in November.
“The question is,” Reynolds said on Friday, “do you want to continue building on the success that we’ve seen or do you want to stop and reverse course and go backwards? I don’t believe Iowans want to do that.”
Reynolds said assessments by independent outside evaluators refute Hubbell’s statements and she said she expects Republicans to follow through on income tax changes passed this year, which she says will provide more than $2 billion in relief by 2023 by revamping business tax credits and cutting state corporate income taxes in the future.
“We’re going to continue to look for opportunities to reduce people’s taxes,” she said. “We’re excited about coming back next legislative session and continuing to work on that. We’re not done. We’re just getting started. It wasn’t a one-and-done.”
Also, in a new strategy for Iowa’s first female governor — having taken over as chief executive when Gov. Terry Branstad resigned last year to become U.S. ambassador to China – Reynolds played “the gender card” in touting herself as the candidate who is “focused on results and getting things done.”
“As a woman, I’m going to play a little bit of the gender card here just a little bit,” she told the breakfast meeting, “but we’re pretty darned good at multitasking because that’s what we’ve had to do: You see a problem, you solve a problem and then you move on to the next problem.”
Reynolds said the most-pressing concern for Iowa businesses is the shortage of skilled workers, the focus of her Future Ready Iowa initiative passed last session, while farmers continue to feel the financial strain caused by new tariffs and disputes with key trading partners like Mexico, Canada and China.
Reynolds said Trump administration officials say they are “really close to having something done with Mexico” in revamping the North American Free Trade Agreement. She expected an announcement on NAFTA soon as it relates to Mexico and she hoped that would lead to a similar outcome with Canada.
Turning to talks with China, she said, Iowa farmers support free and fair trade, and many of them are willing to give the administration some time to settle difference between the two countries but she added, “The longer that goes on, the angst is starting to escalate just a little bit.”
“China has been a bad actor, and they’ve been sticking it to us for years, and our farmers recognize that,” she said. “If they can just see some movement and we could inject a little bit of certainty into the market, I think that’s a really positive thing.”
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