Government

Reynolds won't back away from attacking Hubbell's time at Younkers

Governor says her campaign focuses on policy, just as Grassley advised

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds speaks at a March campaign stop in Marion. The governor said Monday at another stop in Marion that she will not back away from her campaign’s ads attacking Fred Hubbell’s years at Younkers but that she will concentrate on policy matters in her campaign appearances. (Cliff Jette/The Gazette)
Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds speaks at a March campaign stop in Marion. The governor said Monday at another stop in Marion that she will not back away from her campaign’s ads attacking Fred Hubbell’s years at Younkers but that she will concentrate on policy matters in her campaign appearances. (Cliff Jette/The Gazette)

Gov. Kim Reynolds’ campaign will continue to raise questions about Fred Hubbell’s record while leading his family-owned Younkers department store chain while also talking about policy differences with the Democratic gubernatorial nominee.

“We’re going to focus on both. We’re constantly talking about policy,” Reynolds said when asked whether her campaign will follow the advice of Sen. Chuck Grassley to “stick to policy.”

“I always stick to policy when I’m campaigning, and I would advise other people to stick to policy,” Grassley, R-Iowa, said last week when asked about the Republican Party of Iowa’s mocking Hubbell by calling him as “Sir Frederick” and portraying him as an out-of-touch rich guy who doesn’t understand or care about regular Iowans.

Reynolds, who was in Marion on Monday, hasn’t joined in the “Sir Frederick” rhetoric, but she defended her campaign’s attack on Hubbell’s record as chairman of Younkers.

“That was something he brought up as his tie to rural Iowa,” the GOP governor said.

At a campaign event in Independence, for example, Hubbell responded to a question about what he would do for rural Iowa by talking about his time overseeing Younkers in the 1980s and 1990s. He said he visited stores across Iowa and spoke to customers and staff.

The Reynolds’ campaign has repeatedly questioned whether Hubbell had the interest of rural Iowa in mind when Younkers closed three smaller stores and cut wages and benefits for employees. The Hubbell campaign has countered, saying the closures didn’t come while Hubbell had day-to-day responsibility for the stores. It said that Younkers added employees during his time at the company’s helm.

However, there’s more to talk about, Reynolds said, such as Hubbell’s opposition to the largest income tax cut in Iowa history that was approved by the GOP-controlled Legislature this spring.

“He wants to raise taxes on Iowans by reversing the tax cuts we implemented this last session. I certainly don’t,” she said.

Hubbell called tax legislation “fiscally irresponsible — especially given the challenges to the Renewable Fuel Standard and proposed changes to NAFTA, and the threat of tariffs at the time.”

Hubbell also opposes legislation to create “skinny” insurance-like plans for Iowans who are uninsured. The plans would have limited coverage and, because they are not considered insurance, would not conform to the Affordable Care Act or be regulated by the state insurance commissioner.

“He doesn’t agree with providing affordable health care options for small businesses and working families and farmers. I do,” Reynolds said.

Hubbell called the legislation “a blatant and shameful deal that will ultimately leave Iowans with less care.” He believes those plans may limit the individual marketplace by making it less likely for new insurance providers to enter the Iowa market.

And finally, Reynolds said that Hubbell “doesn’t think Iowa is the best place in the country to live, and I certainly don’t agree with that.” That ranking was from U.S. News & World Report.

Rather than listen to a “D.C. ranking,” Hubbell said he’s listening to Iowans “who want change whether it be the disabled Medicaid patient who can’t get the in-home care he needs because of Reynolds’ privatization, or the teachers who are leaving the state because they lost collective bargaining rights, or the mental health patient who has to drive hours to get any care, or the nearly 40 percent of Iowans who cannot afford the basic costs of living.”

Reynolds also thanked Grassley for his support, his endorsement and serving as an honorary chairman of her campaign.

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“We’re going to do a lot of events together,” she said. “Most importantly, we work together on really important issues that impact Iowans. We’ve been in close communication when it comes to the tariffs and trade and, especially, a robust RFS and what we need to do to hold the president and his team and administration accountable to what they said they were going to do.”

l Comments: (319) 398-8375; james.lynch@thegazette.com

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