INDIANOLA — Campaigning for Iowa’s governorship intensified Wednesday with Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds and Democratic challenger Fred Hubbell touching on turnout, turnarounds and turnoffs as they sought to attract voters headed to the polls next week.
During bus stops through Central and Eastern Iowa, Reynolds touted her administration’s accomplishments and Iowa’s economic progress. Hubbell made his case for change during a swing through Northwest Iowa that included calls for Reynolds to sever her campaign ties with GOP U.S. Rep. Steve King over his controversial statements.
“We have to fight strong all the way across the finish line. This is all about turnout,” Reynolds told a Pizza Ranch crowd of nearly 70 people that included her dad and former high-school biology teacher. “This economy is cranking, it’s working. This Republican team is getting things done.”
For his part, leading to Tuesday’s vote, Hubbell continued to hammer themes of raising the minimum wage, ending privatized Medicaid, revamping tax policy and reprioritizing state spending to bolster education and ease college tuition increases.
He joined other Democrats in calling for Reynolds to remove King as her campaign co-chair for his anti-immigrant statements and views on white nationalism.
Reynolds, speaking to reporters, said King is not a campaign co-chair. Rather, she said, “he’s one of about 5,000 honorary chairs and really what it is is an endorsement of my campaign.”
However, a Reynolds campaign news release last November said the campaign was co-chaired by U.S. Sens. Joni Ernst and Chuck Grassley, U.S. Reps. Rod Blum and King, and former Iowa Agriculture Secretary Bill Northey, who stepped down as a state co-chair when he accepted a federal post.
Reynolds then called King “a strong defender of freedom and our conservative values. He’s independent, principled, and is fighting the good fight in Washington, D.C. You never have to question where he stands.”
On Wednesday, the governor said Hubbell is shifting attention to King and “scaring” Iowans with talk that Republicans plan to alter the Iowa Public Employees’ Retirement System because his “tax and spend” agenda is failing to win voter support.
“He’s run out of things to run on,” Reynolds said. “It’s scare tactics. Between IPERS and that — I feel sorry that that’s all they have.”
She said King “is not involved in policy; he’s not involved in anything. When I don’t agree with what he says, I’m very open about that. None of us agree on everything. I also cannot be held accountable for what every person tweets or says. I’m accountable for myself, and I am leading. We’re providing results. This state is heading in the right direction and they have absolutely nothing to talk about.”
Hubbell said his priorities are improving access to affordable, quality health care, making sure every Iowan has access to quality lifelong learning and boosting incomes by working in a bipartisan way “for the benefit of all Iowans.” He also has pledged to restore collective bargaining rights to public employees and state funding for Planned Parenthood.
“I’m running for governor because I can’t stand by and watch our state get run into the ground by Gov. Reynolds and a Republican Legislature,” Hubbell told a rally Tuesday night in Cedar Rapids.
Reynolds said her administration is responsive to Iowans’ concerns, noting that when she was sworn in as governor in May 2017 she heard complaints that Medicaid providers weren’t getting paid on time by managed care organizations under contract with the state.
“That’s unacceptable and so that’s one of the things that I was able to fix,” she said, adding that officials plan to monitor the system and impose penalties if contractual expectations aren’t met.
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Democrats point to the way changes to Medicaid, public sector collective bargaining and workers’ compensation and state income tax policy were made by Republicans without public input in warning that GOP changes could be in store to “gut” IPERS.
“I am here to let you know that there is no way that the Republican team is going to do anything that would impact your IPERS,” Reynolds told the Keep Iowa Moving rally.