Gov. Kim Reynolds became the first female governor of Iowa when she took over for former Governor Terry Branstad who left to work as President Trump's ambassador to China. She fended off a vigorous challenge from Democrat Fred Hubbell Tuesday to win her first election to stay in the state’s highest office.
Iowans generally elect their governors by wide margins. Not so this year, with Reynolds defeating Fred Hubbell roughly 50 percent to 47 percent. Hubbell was able to keep the race close by running up big vote totals in Iowa’s urban centers. Reynolds won 88 of Iowa’s 99 counties.
In a raucous victory speech to supporters in Des Moines seconds after midnight, Reynolds said she’s proud to be Iowa’s first female governor.
“And now I’m very proud to say I get to be the first elected female governor of Iowa,” she said to loud cheers.
Reynolds, the state’s former lieutenant governor, took over the Iowa’s top job when former Gov. Terry Branstad became the U.S. ambassador to China in 2017. The candidates ran an issue-oriented campaign, with Reynolds touting GOP accomplishments of the last two years, and Hubbell promising to roll them back. Reynolds will continue to have a Republican legislature to work with as voters retained both the House and Senate under GOP control.
“Iowa is moving in the right direction,” she said. “But you know what…we are just getting started.”
Reynolds listed cutting taxes among the things she is just getting started on.
In his concession speech before Democrats gathered just across the river from the GOP gathering in downtown Des Moines, first-time candidate Hubbell made one final call for civility in modern politics.
“It’s my sincere hope that Iowa can return to a political dialogue where even if the two sides don’t agree on a policy they can still believe in a healthy debate where we all preserve the core institutions of our democracy,” he said.
Hubbell said that in his congratulatory call to Reynolds, he urged her to represent all Iowans and to listen to their concerns about education, health care, and job training. Reynolds acknowledged to her supporters it was a hard-fought race and she promised to sit down with her Hubbell to - in her words - find common ground.