Republican Kim Reynolds becomes first woman elected as Iowa governor

Republicans cheer as the election is called in Governor Kim Reynolds favor at the GOP watch party on Nov. 6.

Devyn Leeson

Tuesday night, Kim Reynolds went from the first woman in Iowa to serve as governor to the first woman to be elected as governor.

Reynolds, a Republican, edged out opponent Fred Hubbell by winning 50 percent of the vote compared to his 48 percent. With all but one of the precincts reporting, Reynolds was leading by 38,000 votes.

“I’m proud to say that I will be the first elected female governor of this state,” Reynolds said.

Reynolds first took office in 2011 as lieutenant governor when Gov. Terry Branstad won his election. Reynolds stepped up to governor when Branstad became ambassador to China in 2017.

Reynolds addressed a crowd after her election, touting that she is a fifth-generation Iowan, as she had throughout her campaign. 

Reynolds emphasized that she represents all Iowans including those who voted for Hubbell. She also said she is just getting started on implementing more changes to the state as she takes on a second term.

“Together we have accomplished so much and Iowa is moving in the right direction but you know what? We are just getting started,” Reynolds said. 

In her first term, Reynolds oversaw key legislation as it made its way through the legislature, including restrictions on public unions’ collective bargaining ability, legalized fireworks, gun legislation, reforms of mental healthcare in Iowa, the “fetal heartbeat bill,” voter ID laws and large scale tax cuts.

“I support the bill,” former Iowa State student Brandon Carlson said about the heartbeat bill. “I would be in favor of going further.”

Carlson attended the GOP watch party where Reynolds was at and said he liked Reynolds tax policy compared to Hubbells’, who he said would want to raise taxes. 

“I’m not for raising taxes,” Carlson said. “I don’t think it’s fair to tax someone more.”

Reynolds focused on issues related to the economy throughout the election, saying it is in a better state than it has been in 10 years. She said this in sharp contrast to the large deficit the state had been in when she and Gov. Terry Branstad took office.

“The budget is balanced, our reserves are full, we have a surplus of $127 million,” said Reynolds at the first of three gubernatorial debates. “We need to let Iowans control more of their hard earned money.”

Hubbell was vocal on the campaign trail about higher education, funding renewable energy and returning Medicaid control to the state. Hubbell was critical of Reynolds for her “fiscal irresponsibilities,” particularly toward higher education funding.

“It is my sincere hope that in her first full term, Gov. Reynolds will listen to those [Iowan] voices loud and clear,” Hubbell said after the results were in. 

Reynolds also focused her campaign on accomplishments related to tax cuts. On multiple occasions she accused Hubbell of being a candidate that would raise taxes.

“I want to reduce taxes, he wants to raise them,” Reynolds said. “He has made that very clear.”

Mental healthcare in Iowa has been a main voting issue for Iowans. As such, Reynolds used mental healthcare as a talking point in her campaign.

Reynolds signed a bipartisan healthcare reform into law, but she has been criticized for passing a budget that didn’t fund those reforms.

“This state has taught me the most powerful lesson: if you work hard and dream big, you can accomplish anything,” Reynolds said.