Clay Masters

Morning Edition Host

Clay Masters is Iowa Public Radio’s Morning Edition host and lead political reporter. 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.

Iowa capitol
John Pemble / Iowa Public Radio

The Iowa Senate has sent a bill to the house that would legalize sports betting in the state. Morning Edition host Clay Masters talks with IPR state government reporter Katarina Sostaric about the bill as well as other issues like Republican lawmakers trying to restrict Attorney General Tom Miller's ability to join national lawsuits.

The Iowa caucuses are still nine months away, and with at least 20 Democrats either considering a run or officially declared, many of them are looking for ways to stand out in the crowded field. One tried-and-true way: show up in voters' homes.

Clay Masters / IPR/File

The CEO and General Manager of the Des Moines Water Works has died. Bill Stowe was known throughout the state for his steadfast commitment to Iowa’s water quality. Des Moines Water Works announced last month he’d recently been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. In 2017, he was part of the on-going IPR forum Public Radio on Tap.

“The biggest water quality issue facing Iowa in my view is the denial of many in leadership positions that there is a water quality problem in this state,” Stowe said to applause from the audience.

John Pemble / Iowa Public Radio

Gov. Kim Reynolds’ proposed constitutional amendment to restore felon voting rights upon completion of their sentences appears dead for the session.  IPR's Clay Masters spoke with Iowa Public Radio state government reporter Katarina Sostaric about this and other issues at the Statehouse.

John Pemble/IPR

Last week, the Iowa House voted in favor of a constitutional amendment that would automatically restore voting rights to Iowans with felony convictions. It’s the first step in a long process. Morning Edition host Clay Masters talks with state government reporter Katarina Sostaric about this issue. They also discuss Governor Reynolds' birth control plan and the "personhood" bill in the Senate.

At first glance, Storm Lake, Iowa, doesn't seem like the sort of place that would attract Democratic presidential candidates.

The town of 10,600 sits in the highly conservative northwest corner of the state. In 2016, Donald Trump collected 4,903 votes in surrounding Buena Vista County, compared with Hillary Clinton's 2,856 votes.

iowa capitol
John Pemble / IPR

Republican lawmakers in the Iowa House have advanced a proposal to address concerns they heard from voters about property taxes. IPR Morning Edition Host Clay Masters speaks with IPR state government reporter Katarina Sostaric about that chamber's bill as well as why U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos was at the Statehouse last week, and what the "Ag Gag 2.0" bill that Gov. Kim Reynolds signed last week would do for undercover farm investigations. 

Clay Masters / IPR

Democratic presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke started his bid for the White House campaigning in Keokuk on Thursday. And continued his swing through the state with multiple stops on Friday.

The former Texas congressman is linking the terrorist attack at two New Zealand mosques that left 49 people dead to President Donald Trump’s rhetoric. 

On the road between campaign stops Friday, O’Rourke said the United States should not only offer compassion to the survivors and to those who lost loved ones in the terrorist attack, but also be a leader in calling out Islamophobia. 

Campaign Facebook Profiles

Many Democrats running for president have been spending time in the Waterloo-Cedar Falls area over the last number of weeks. It’s because of a special state senate election. Jeff Danielson, a Democrat, left his senate seat abruptly last month and Governor Kim Reynolds set the special election for this coming Tuesday, March 19th.  Presidential hopefuls Beto O’Rourke, a former Texas congressman, and Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar will be knocking doors for the Democrat, Eric Giddens. He's running against Republican Walt Rogers. 

John Pemble/IPR

The Iowa Legislature is in it's ninth week at the Statehouse, with last Friday marking the first deadline of the session. During this River to River episode, Clay Masters talks with reporters about what bills are still being considered and what bills didn't make the cut after last week's "funnel." 

Guests include: 

John Pemble/IPR

 

A wide-ranging elections bill that would block public university students from voting early on campus among other changes advanced in the Iowa senate last week. Morning Edition Host Clay Masters spoke with IPR’s state government reporter Katarina Sostaric about this bill and others working their way through the legislature following a deadline last week.

 

Clay Masters / IPR

Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders finished his first swing through Iowa Saturday as an official Democratic presidential candidate. Instead of small and more intimate venues, the campaign held three rallies over the course of three days in the state which kicks off the presidential nominating process.

Sanders, an independent senator who caucuses with Democrats, told the crowd he thinks he has a good chance of winning the Democratic nomination in 2020. But he says he will strongly support whoever gets the nomination.

Clay Masters/IPR

The governor of Washington made his first swing through Iowa Tuesday. It’s his first trip to the first-in-the-nation caucus state since becoming an official Democratic presidential candidate. Gov. Jay Inslee has made combatting climate change the focus of his campaign.

During his trip he toured an electrical contracting company in Cedar Rapids that focuses on solar power and met with students at Iowa State University. He finished with a private event at a law firm in West Des Moines.

Clay Masters / Iowa Public Radio

Two governors who have hinted at making a run for president next year spent Monday in Iowa, which kicks off the presidential nominating process. Republican Larry Hogan of Maryland and Democrat Steve Bullock of Montana were attending a conference of the National Governor’s Association in Des Moines.

Hogan has been critical of President Donald Trump and has not ruled out running against him in 2020.

“I don’t know that I do want to be president,” Hogan told reporters. “But I do think governors are much more prepared to be president.”

State Department photo by Ron Przysucha/ Public Domain

United States Secretary of State Mike Pompeo visits Iowa Monday amidst a trade war with China that continues to hit Iowa’s agriculture sector. Pompeo says the trip was the idea of U.S. Ambassador to China and former Iowa Governor Terry Branstad who is making the trip with him. Pompeo says the visit is an effort to help explain the role of the U.S. state department.

“We’ll talk about Iowa agriculture,” Pompeo tells Iowa Public Radio. “And how it is that the Trump administration – including the state department – are working on behalf of Iowa farmers.”

John Pemble / IPR

Many of Republican Governor Kim Reynolds’ priorities have passed early hurdles in the legislative process, and a deadline for lawmakers to move bills forward is Friday. Morning Edition Host Clay Masters talks with IPR State Government Reporter Katarina Sostaric about the week ahead at the legislature.

John Pemble / IPR file

Iowa U.S. Sen. Joni Ernst says the United States needs to stand strong with foreign allies like South Korea following President Donald Trump’s meeting with North Korea’s leader this week. The Republican senator who serves on the Armed Services Committee was asked during a conference call with Iowa reporters about President Trump’s pattern of siding with foreign leaders over U.S. intelligence.

“The president has a unique negotiating strategy,” Ernst says. “I would say part of that strategy is to gain the confidence of others.”

iowa capitol
John Pemble/IPR

Iowa lawmakers are considering three bills that would change eligibility requirements for public assistance programs like Medicaid and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly known as food stamps. 

Jack Reardon, who grew up in Des Moines in a single parent household says that there isn't a need to increase oversight for the program, but that there is a need to expand programs like SNAP. 

John Pemble / IPR file

There are a number of bills moving forward that would limit or eliminate abortions in Iowa. That’s despite recent court rulings. Last week, Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds declined to appeal a court ruling over abortion but says she will continue fighting for abortion opponents. Morning Edition Host Clay Masters checked in with IPR state government reporter Katarina Sostaric to talk about abortion legislation and preview the week ahead at the capitol.

John Pemble / IPR file

UPDATE: Gov. Reynolds office Monday announced she would sign education bills Tuesday morning at the Statehouse.  Those bills were among the topics discussed earlier Monday on IPR's Morning Edition.  That conversation between Clay Masters and State Government Reporter Katarina Sostaric is below.

The Iowa legislature has sent an education spending bill to the governor. There’s been a lot of talk from lawmakers about changing public assistance and last week we had a sudden resignation of a Democratic state senator.

Clay Masters/IPR

Minnesota U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar made several stops in Iowa this weekend. It’s her first trip here since announcing she’s running for the Democratic nomination for president in 2020. Klobachar told a crowd at a brewery in the central Iowa town of Knoxville she doesn’t come from a political machine or from money.

Clay Masters / Iowa Public Radio

The first major changes to the Iowa Democratic caucuses were proposed Monday. Iowans who take part in the first-in-the-nation presidential nominating process would be able to do so virtually if the proposal is approved by a central party committee and the Democratic National Committee.

Iowa Democrats have had to physically attend the caucuses to declare their choices since 1972. Critics have said the process excludes people who can’t attend because of work or disability. State party leaders unveiled plans for next year to allow Democrats to use a phone to participate.

Clay Masters / Iowa Public Radio

The mayor of South Bend, Indiana is a relatively unknown Democratic presidential hopeful and worked to remedy his lack of name recognition this weekend with a trip to Iowa. Pete Buttigieg made several stops in Ames and Des Moines. At a house in Johnston, he said the president’s administration pits business against things like healthcare and childcare.

John Pemble / IPR File Photo

State lawmakers are expected to vote on K-12 public education funding this week. It’s less than Governor Kim Reynolds requested, but it’s more than the last couple of years. This bill gives a 2.06 percent increase in base funding, or about $79 million. Morning Edition Host Clay Masters checked in with IPR state government reporter Katarina Sostaric. Here’s what to know about education funding and other issues going on at the capitol.

Clay Masters / Iowa Public Radio

Growing up poor in Mississippi, Cedric Burnside didn't have running water.

It's a fact he highlights in the first song on his Grammy-nominated album, Benton County Relic.

In the upbeat, soulful song, titled "We Made It," Burnside croons verses like, "I came from nothing, I done been lower than low" and "Walk 3 miles every day, to have water in the house for another day."

Burnside grew up in his grandfather's house, along with many of his cousins. It wasn't until he was 12 years old that they finally got running water.

Clay Masters / Iowa Public Radio

There are a lot of Democrats with presidential ambitions in 2020 and many of them are already making trips to Iowa. This cycle, at least some Democratic candidates are trying hard to win over rural supporters who were largely ignored in 2016.

Ten farmers and small business owners sit around a table at the public library in Perry, Iowa and talk with Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown. He’s getting their perspective as he mulls whether or not to run for president.

He’s able to partake in farm country small talk like the price of farmland these days.

John Pemble / IPR file

Legalizing sports betting takes center stage this week at the Capitol as lawmakers return for week four of the legislative session. There was also some movement last week on a couple of possible constitutional amendments.

Clay Masters / Iowa Public Radio

It was one year ago Friday that Republican Ted Cruz and Democrat Hillary Clinton won the 2016 Iowa caucuses. Iowa Democrats will be heading to their caucus sites a year from Sunday to select someone they want to face President Donald Trump in the 2020 election. IPR's Clay Masters spoke with Des Moines Register Chief Politics Reporter Brianne Pfannenstiel regarding her reporting about potential 2020 Democratic contenders working to beef up their Iowa campaigns. 

Alejandro Cordón / flickr

Feeling chilly and wondering how to fill your time indoors today? We've got you covered. Check out our latest Spotify playlist featuring curated picks from our staff to get you through these sub-zero days. 

What are your favorite songs about the cold? Tweet us @iowapublicradio. 

                         

Clay Masters/IPR

U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris was in Des Moines Monday night just a day after kicking off her 2020 campaign for president.  Harris embraced many progressive policies during a town-hall style event broadcast live on CNN.  

Harris answered questions from an audience at Drake University in Des Moines. She says she will not vote for a wall along the southern U-S border under any circumstances. Harris was asked by a Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals recipient how she would protect people like her and their families.

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