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.

Charlie Neibergall / AP

Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden unveiled a health care plan Monday that would add a public option to the Affordable Care Act.  The former vice president talked about the plan at a Des Moines forum hosted by AARP Iowa and the Des Moines Register. Biden has differed from many of his opponents in not calling for a “Medicare for All” plan.

Presidential candidates are seemingly everywhere in Iowa: showing up at picnics, union halls and coffee shops, even running in to each other at the farmer's market. Skipping out on the state that's the first to weigh in on the presidential primary process has become politically unthinkable. But that wasn't always the case. In the first episode of Caucus Land, we're going back to the 1960s to see how it all got started.

Clay Masters / IPR

Iowa Republican U.S. Rep. Steve King says he's ready for primary debates if the time comes.

“If there are debates… I’m ready,” King told Iowa Public Radio after a town hall in Hampton on Friday. “I spend every day getting ready for them. I don’t have to go prep for them or read up. It’s what I do every day.”

joe biden
Katarina Sostaric / IPR

Former Vice President Joe Biden campaigned in Iowa Tuesday to run against President Trump, who was also in the state for a fundraiser.

At his first campaign stop of the day in Ottumwa, Biden called President Trump an “existential threat” to America and the country’s core values. He criticized Trump for policies he said are hurting farmers.

Amy Mayer/IPR file

President Donald Trump will be in Iowa Tuesday talking up his administration’s recent move to allow year-round sales of E15. That’s a form of gasoline with higher blends of ethanol – primarily made from corn. It’s a policy meant to bolster Trump’s support in the upper Midwest where farmers have been hurting as a result of his trade wars and natural disasters.


John Pemble / IPR

Nineteen of the Democratic presidential candidates gave speeches at one event in Cedar Rapids Sunday.  The candidates mostly took to bashing President Donald Trump, but there were subtle jabs at the front-runner.

The candidates just got five minutes each to speak. The most notable absence from the lineup was Joe Biden, the current frontrunner in the latest Des Moines Register/Mediacom/CNN Iowa Poll published over the weekend. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York made a swipe at the former vice president regarding abortion.

Welcome to Caucus Land! As the first in the nation voting state, Iowa is where all presidential candidates begin - and many end - their campaign to the White House. Join IPR reporters Clay Masters and Kate Payne as they delve into Iowa's role in shaping the nominating field - from Iowa's caucus history to the candidates, the moments and people that shape the 2020 presidential cycle. 

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: 

iowa capitol
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.

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