Clay Masters

Morning Edition Host

Clay Masters is Iowa Public Radio’s Morning Edition host and lead political reporter. He was part of a team of member station political reporters who covered the 2016 presidential race for NPR. He also covers environmental issues.

Clay joined the Iowa Public Radio newsroom as a statehouse correspondent in 2012 and started hosting Morning Edition in 2014. Clay is an award-winning multi-media journalist whose radio stories have been heard on various NPR and American Public Media programs.

He was one of the founding reporters of Harvest Public Media, the regional journalism consortium covering agriculture and food production in the Midwest. He was based in Lincoln, Nebraska where he worked for Nebraska’s statewide public radio and television network.

He’s also an occasional music contributor to NPR’s arts desk.

Clay’s favorite NPR program is All Things Considered.

Clay Masters/IPR

President Donald Trump was in Council Bluffs Tuesday night to announce a regulatory change that would lift a ban on selling an ethanol-gasoline blend during the summer months. Right now, the Environmental Protection Agency prohibits the sale of gasoline blended with 15 percent ethanol, commonly called E15, during the summer months.

“My administration is protecting ethanol,” Trump told the crowd gathered at the Mid America Center. “Today we are unleashing the power of E15 to power our country all year long.”

Clay Masters / Iowa Public Radio

Sen. Cory Booker, D-NJ,  flew to Iowa to headline a Democratic fundraiser Saturday night fresh off the Senate’s vote to confirm Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Sen. Booker, who serves on the Senate judiciary committee, says the process for confirming Kavanuagh was a sham. The senator is seen as a potential contender for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2020. Iowa is the leadoff state in the nominating process. But Booker focused on the midterm, telling the crowd not to be discouraged by any of the president’s actions.

John Pemble /IPR

Iowa Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds is making the case she should be elected to her job for the first time in November. She took over when former Gov. Terry Branstad left office to be U.S. Ambassador to China in 2017. Reynolds, 59, served as Branstad’s Lt. Governor since he was voted back into office in 2010.

A recent Iowa poll shows Reynolds in a close race for the governor’s office against Democrat and retired businessman Fred Hubbell. Hubbell, 67, says a larger-than-expected budget surplus of $127 million shows Reynolds is doing a poor job of managing the budget.

John Pemble / Iowa Public Radio

Democratic candidate for governor Fred Hubbell has been critical of the state’s budgeting practices under Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds. Hubbell, a 67-year-old retired businessman, says recent figures from the state revenue estimating conference are an indication of fiscal mismanagement. The $127 million surplus was larger than budget officials expected.

John Pemble/IPR

Libertarian gubernatorial candidate Jake Porter was not invited to participate in the three debates between Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds and Democratic challenger Fred Hubbell. Porter says it’s too bad because he would’ve added to the conversation.

“We would talk about things that may get ignored now like criminal justice reform (and) things that often aren’t talked about,” Porter says. “Also, different ideas for the budget."

John Pemble / Iowa Public Radio

There’s a close race for governor in the state right now between incumbent Republican Kim Reynolds and Democratic challenger Fred Hubbell. With less than two months before the election, IPR Morning Edition Host Clay Masters dicsusses the status of the race with Des Moines Register Chief Politics Reporter Brianne Pfannenstiel.

Clay Masters/John Pemble / IPR

House Republicans running in tough races this fall have two choices when it comes to how they handle President Trump. Embrace him and hope that rallies Trump’s base to their side or stay away from the president and hope that will draw in more moderate and independent voters. Consider two incumbents in neighboring Iowa districts who are testing out these strategies.

When President Donald Trump came to Peosta, Iowa this summer he was on stage with the district’s two-term Republican Congressman Rod Blum.

Jared Krauss

The Mississippi River provides drinking water for millions of people living in cities along the water’s edge. It also carries runoff from Midwestern farms into the Gulf of Mexico.

Nutrient runoff from Iowa agriculture is one of the leading causes of the growing “dead zone” in the Gulf of Mexico, an oxygen-deprived section of the Gulf, which last year was recorded to be the size of the state of New Jersey.

Courtesy of the City of Cedar Rapids

This week marked a decade since histroic floodwaters ravaged a lot of eastern Iowa, including Cedar Rapids.  IPR's Clay Masters speaks with Cedar Rapids Flood Control Program Manager Rob Davis about progress made in the city since 2008.

John Pemble / IPR

Democrats in the state Tuesday night nominated a Fred Hubbell, a wealthy businessman from Des Moines, to run against Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds, who has never been elected to the state’s top job. The primary election also set the stage for Iowa’s congressional races in November including the nomination of Abby Finkenauer. At 28, the two-term state House represenative would be the youngest woman elected to Congress if she defeats Republican incumbent Congressman Rod Blum.

John Pemble / IPR

After speaking with all of the Democratic and Libertarian candidates on Iowa's gubernatorial primary ballot, IPR's Clay Masters extended an invitation to Gov. Kim Reynolds to discuss her vision for the state. While Reynolds does not have an opponent in the June 5th GOP primary, the crowded gubernatorial field has criticized her handling of the privatization of Medicaid and funding for mental health care services. Masters spoke with Reynolds about those and other issues. What follows is a transcript of the conversation.

Clay Masters / Iowa Public Radio

The stakes are high for Iowa Democrats in the midterms this year. It's been a while since there's been a major win for the party in the swing state. And Tuesday could be one of the first steps. That's when Democratic voters will select a candidate to run against Iowa's Republican Governor, Kim Reynolds.

Amy Mayer/IPR file

Most of the attention surrounding the June 5 primary election in Iowa has been on Democratic races for governor and three congressional seats. There is also a contested Republican primary for Secretary of Agriculture. Morning Edition Host Clay Masters spoke with IPR Agriculture Reporter Amy Mayer about the race and the job itself. Here’s what to know.

A few highlights:

John Pemble / IPR

The six Democrats running for their party's nomination for governor will square off in their second debate tonight on Iowa Public Television. Whoever wins the primary on June 5 will face Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds. The governor does not face a primary challenge

John Pemble/IPR

Andy McGuire is a physician and health care management executive. She was also chair of the Iowa Democratic Party in 2015 and ‘16 and oversaw the last Iowa caucuses. Now, she’s running for her party’s nomination for governor.

She spoke with IPR's Clay Masters on Wednesday May 9, 2018 at her campaign office in Des Moines. A transcript of the conversation follows:

I'm asking everybody who's running in the primary why they want to be governor?

John Pemble / Iowa Public Radio

The Libertarian Party of Iowa has full political party status for the first time this election cycle. That's because of a record-breaking showing in Iowa for presidential candidate Gary Johnson in 2016.

There are two candidates running for their party's nomination: Marco Battaglia and Jake Porter. Battaglia has been an active member of the state and national Libertarian Party for five years. He was a nominating delegate to the last national convention, and he’s worked for a number of state and national political campaigns. 

John Pemble / IPR

The Iowa legislature adjourned on Saturday. Sexual harassment and workplace behavior was a topic that hung over the session. Last year, former Republican Senate caucus staffer Kirsten Anderson received a $1.75 million lawsuit settlement. She alleged she was fired in 2013 hours after filing a complaint regarding sexual harassment.

Iowa capitol
John Pemble / Iowa Public Radio

Lawmakers adjourned for the 2018 legislative session on Saturday after passing a tax bill worth $2.8 billion and the strictest ban on abortion anywhere in the country. 

During this session, Governor Kim Reynolds also signed legislation to improve mental health care and water quality in the state. The perennial issue of the bottle bill made some movement. Iowa also saw the ouster of Senate Majority Leader Bill Dix after a video of him interacting with a female lobbyist surfaced. 

Clay Masters / Iowa Public Radio

U.S. House Democratic Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi was in Des Moines Sunday to rally support among party activists for the midterm election. The minority leader was the featured speaker at the Polk County Democrats spring dinner fundraiser.

Pelosi says the party needs to focus on convincing the country Democrats have a “better deal” for Americans.

John Pemble /IPR

Democrat Ross Wilburn is Iowa State University Extension and Outreach’s diversity officer, as well as an associate program director for Community and Economic Development. He has 26 years of experience in nonprofit and governmental organizations, including serving as Iowa City mayor and a council member. Now, he’s running for governor of Iowa.

He talked with IPR's Clay Masters about Medicaid, water quality and other issues facing Iowa. A transcript of the conversation follows:

John Pemble/IPR

Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds does not face a primary election challenger and there are six Democrats running for their party's nomination. But, there's also a primary race for Libertarians this June.

The Libertarian Party of Iowa has full political party status for the first time this election cycle. That's because of a record-breaking showing in Iowa for presidential candidate Gary Johnson in 2016. There are two candidates running for their party's nomination: Marco Battaglia and Jake Porter.

John Pemble / IPR

For the past five or six years, there’s been a lot of attention surrounding Iowa's water quality. Last year, a federal judge dismissed the Des Moines Water Works’ lawsuit against drainage districts in three northern Iowa counties. The utility had claimed the districts were funneling high levels of nitrates into the Raccoon River, a major source of drinking water for 500,000 Iowans. Earlier this year, Governor Kim Reynolds signed a bill she called "monumental," which allocates $282-million for water quality projects in the state. But the law is not without controversy.

John Pemble / IPR

Lawmakers are in the third week of overtime at the Iowa capitol. Late on Friday afternoon, Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds announced she and the House and Senate had reached a tax cut deal. It came on the heels of new information regarding sexual harassment at the Iowa Finance Authority.

John Pemble / IPR

Fred Hubbell is an Iowa businessman who was also tapped by Democratic Governor Chet Culver to chair the Iowa Power Fund and be interim director of the Iowa Department of Economic Development amid the film tax scandal. He has been active in Democratic politics for years, donating to many campaigns and candidates. But, he says listening to Republicans talk about the success of the 2017 session after defunding Planned Parenthood, rolling back collective bargaining rights and privatizing Medicaid was the tipping point that pushed him to become a candidate himself.

nate boulton
John Pemble / Iowa Public Radio

Editor's note: Nate Boulton suspended his campaign for governor on May 24, a day after the Des Moines Register published accusations of sexual misconduct from three women.  This interview with Boulton was conducted in late April.

John Pemble

Cathy Glasson has decades of experience working as a nurse in Iowa. She’s also served as president of the local chapter of the Service Employees International Union. Now, she’s running for governor of Iowa as a Democratic primary candidate.

Iowa Public Radio’s Clay Masters spoke with Glasson about why she’s running for office, why she believes in a statewide minimum wage of $15, and her plans for Iowa’s Medicaid and Medicare systems. A transcript of the conversation follows:

Clay / Iowa Public Radio

Kyle Munson’s last day as the Iowa Columnist at the Des Moines Register is Friday. He's worked there for 24 years. He's been the Iowa Columnist for the last 8 years. Munson is leaving for a job at Principal Financial. The first person to hold the job was reporting on World War II. Munson is just the fourth columnist to hold this position.

IPR's Clay Masters spoke with Munson about the state of journalism and the role of a columnist in the changing media landscape. 

John Pemble / Iowa Public Radio

John Norris is no stranger to politics. He worked as chief of staff to former Governor Tom Vilsack, a job he retained when Vilsack became U.S. Secretary of Agriculture. Norris has also served as U.S. Minister Counselor for Agriculture to the United Nations in Rome, and has served on the Iowa Utilities Board and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. Now, he’s running for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination.

Clay Masters / IPR

The Missouri River has seen several devastating floods in the past decade. Now, a federal judge says the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is responsible for potentially hundreds of millions of dollars worth of property damage over how it handled some of these floods. The ruling has intensified a debate about how best to manage the river that runs from Montana to Missouri.

A sign on the Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge over the Missouri River between Council Bluffs, Iowa and Omaha, Nebraska calls the Big Muddy “forever changed by the power of humans.”

iowa capitol
John Pemble/IPR

Republicans who control the Iowa House unveiled a more than $1 billion tax cut bill. And, Republicans who control the Senate have their own new $2 billion tax plan. Time is ticking on the Iowa legislative session because lawmakers’ expense accounts expire on Tuesday. IPR Statehouse Correspondent Joyce Russell breaks it down. 

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