DES MOINES — Media reports from last week’s Republican governors’ meeting in Texas indicated some angst among GOP chief executives facing election in 2018 over inviting President Donald Trump to campaign for them.
Don’t include Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds’ name in that column.
Reynolds told reporters Monday she’s not an announced candidate yet, but once she makes it official next year she expects she may include the president in her strategy to win her first statewide election as a gubernatorial candidate.
“We’ll take a look at that moving forward but I wouldn’t say no,” said Reynolds when asked.
Trump is heavily responsible for Reynolds being the current Terrace Hill occupant, given that his choice of Terry Branstad to be U.S. ambassador to China led to Branstad’s resignation as governor and Reynolds’ ascent from lieutenant.
Reynolds said last week’s GOP Governors Association meeting was a private gathering “so I’m not sure how some of those comments were made public.” Some Republican reportedly were concerned about upcoming midterm elections in the face of recent Democratic successes in gubernatorial races.
Iowa Republicans, including Branstad and Reynolds, were among the earliest and strongest united Trump supporters in 2016. Reynolds said she has been pleased with the access and opportunities to meet with key members of the Trump administration.
Of more concern to her, she said, is the lack of action by the Republican-led Congress and the president in passing campaign promises including a repeal of the Affordable Care Act and passage of a federal tax overhaul.
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“I think right now if they can get tax reform done and they can come back and get something done with health care, then I think it will be a much different environment,” she said. “If they can’t get something done, I think the sentiment is not going to be good.”
The 2018 races are significant to both political parties because the governors who get elected could play a crucial role in redrawing legislative and congressional boundaries after the 2020 election. Media reports out of the Texas meeting indicated concern among some GOP governors over Trump’s low approval ratings with voters, as well as the strength and unity of opposition voters in the Democratic Party.
The Iowa governor said she has been pleased with the response she’s received in discussions with the president and officials in his administration over issues related to the Renewable Fuel Standard, health insurance and the workforce.
“I didn’t get that opportunity before and I appreciate that,” she said. “And they’re listening.”
On a related matter, Reynolds said she encountered protesters in Texas who were wise to her plan of wearing a “Free Bill” T-shirt to highlight her support for Iowa Agriculture Secretary Bill Northey, whose confirmation to a federal post is being blocked by Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas.
“I was the only governor that had protesters,” said Reynolds, who encountered signs decrying “corn cronyism.”
Cruz said he will hold up Northey’s nomination until he gets a meeting with the president to discuss the Renewable Fuel Standard. A U.S. Senate committee approved Northey’s nomination, but his confirmation requires a vote on the Senate floor.