CEDAR RAPIDS — In a final flurry of rallies around the state in their attempts to lock down what appears to be an extremely tight race, Gov. Kim Reynolds and challenger Fred Hubbell spent part of the morning before Election Day firing up supporters in Cedar Rapids.
“We’ve got a big day today. Are you ready to go knock on some doors, get some votes and win this election?” Hubbell asked supporters at the Democratic field office in northeast Cedar Rapids.
“We’re going to finish strong,” Reynolds told supporters at Signature Flight Support at The Eastern Iowa Airport, where she flew in with a GOP team of U.S. Sens. Chuck Grassley and Joni Ernst, Secretary of State Paul Pate, Auditor Mary Mosiman, Agriculture Secretary Mike Naig and acting Lt. Gov. Adam Gregg. They were joined by U.S. Rep. Rod Blum, state Rep. Ashley Hinson and state House candidate Teresa Daubitz.
“Iowa is a state that’s getting things done, and this is the Republican team that’s getting things done,” Reynolds said.
Polls show a neck-and-neck race between Reynolds — who stepped into the role in May 2017 when Gov. Terry Branstad became the ambassador to China — and Hubbell — a retired Des Moines businessman who won the six-way Democratic primary.
The Iowa Poll, released Saturday by the Des Moines Register, showed Hubbell leading Reynolds by just 2 points, 46 to 44 percent, among likely voters. An Emerson College poll also of likely voters, published Friday, showed Reynolds ahead of Hubbell by 4 points, 49 to 45 percent.
Reynolds, traveling by private plane, scheduled nine events Monday from river to river, with stops in Ankeny, Davenport, Waterloo, Clear Lake, Fort Dodge, Council Bluffs, Sioux City and Sioux Center in addition to Cedar Rapids.
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Reynolds joked she was relying on her team to make sure she knew where she was before stepping off the plane.
“We all check before we run in. We all stop and say, ‘Where are we at?’” she told reporters. “It’s so much fun. It’s exciting. I love it.”
Besides Cedar Rapids, Hubbell also made stops in Iowa City and West Des Moines before holding an election eve rally in Des Moines. Running mate state Sen. Rita Hart made stops in Eldridge, North Liberty and Ottumwa before joining Hubbell in Des Moines.
Voters have a big choice, Hubbell said.
If Reynolds wins, it will be more of the same — cutting funding for education, job training and health care and “throwing our money out the window for wasteful corporate giveaways,” he said. “Or we can change the direction of the state. If we do that, we can put people first in our state again instead of these big corporations and a few wealthy people.”
A Hubbell win means the “disaster” of privatized Medicaid can be reversed, he added.
“There are a lot of reasons to get out and vote,” Hubbell told the volunteers. “It’s going to be a very close election. We can’t win without you. We can win this election if we get the vote out.”
Reynolds framed the choice differently.
“Iowa is moving in the right direction and the facts are undeniable,” she said. “Iowa was named the No. 1 state in the country, the budget is balanced and the state has a $127 million surplus, wages are going up and taxes are going down,” and Iowa has record low unemployment.
A Hubbell win would mean a return to the administration of Democratic Gov. Chet Culver “that Hubbell was a part of (with) massive spending, debt, growing government. That is not the direction we want to go,” Reynolds said.
Like Hubbell, Reynolds said the election is “all about turnout.”
“If Iowans turn out, I believe with all my heart that we’re going to keep Iowa moving in the right direction,” she said. “I feel the momentum. I feel the energy. We just have to turn out. And if we do, we’ll get good results.
Polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesday.
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Erin Murphy of The Gazette-Lee Des Moines Bureau contributed.