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Reynolds wins reelection in Iowa governor race

A graphic of Gov. Kim Reynolds noting that she has won reelection in 2022
IPR
Gov. Kim Reynolds has won reelection.

Gov. Kim Reynolds has won reelection as Iowa governor.

Last updated 11:20 p.m. Central, Tuesday, Nov. 8

Iowa Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds was reelected Tuesday to serve a second four-year term. The Associated Press called the race for Reynolds just a few minutes after polls closed at 8 p.m.

“It has been the honor of a lifetime to have the opportunity to serve as the governor of this amazing state,” Reynolds said Tuesday night in her victory speech in Des Moines. “And it’s even a greater honor to be given the opportunity to serve you for another four years.”

She led her Democratic opponent Deidre DeJear in polling and fundraising by wide margins throughout the campaign.

Gov. Kim Reynolds speaks into a microphone in front of an American flag.
John Pemble
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Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds speaks at a Republican election night party in Des Moines soon after winning reelection shortly after polls closed on Nov. 9.

Reynolds ran on a platform of opposing President Joe Biden’s policies and those of Democratic governors in other states, and she rarely mentioned that she even had a Democratic opponent in Iowa.

I am so excited to get back to work and to lay out a bold conservative agenda and to follow through with what we say we’re going to do... I can promise you, it is going to be an agenda where you keep more of your money, where our schools are thriving and all parents have a choice, where your government works for you, not the other way around.
Gov. Kim Reynolds during her Election Night victory speech

Throughout her campaign, Reynolds touted her work on cutting taxes, banning transgender women and girls from playing on sports teams that align with their gender identity, and banning COVID vaccine and mask mandates in schools.

“I am so excited to get back to work and to lay out a bold conservative agenda and to follow through with what we say we’re going to do.” Reynolds said. “I can promise you, it is going to be an agenda where you keep more of your money, where our schools are thriving and all parents have a choice, where your government works for you, not the other way around.”

Reynolds has declined interviews with IPR and other media outlets this election cycle and has not publicly offered many details about her policy plans for another term in office. She has indicated she wants to make another push for state-funded scholarships for students to go to private schools. And she said she’s not done cutting taxes.

On abortion, Reynolds has asked a court to reinstate a law that would ban most abortions after a “fetal heartbeat” is detected, as early as six weeks after a pregnant person’s last period. But she has declined to say if she wants future abortion restrictions to include exceptions.

Reynolds, 63, first became governor of Iowa in 2017. She was lieutenant governor to former Gov. Terry Branstad, who left office when former President Donald Trump appointed him as U.S. Ambassador to China. Reynolds served as governor for more than a year before being elected to the role.

In 2018, she won a competitive race against Democrat Fred Hubbell, making her the first woman elected to Iowa’s highest office. That year, Reynolds got 50% of the vote and Hubbell got 48%.

On Tuesday night, Reynolds recognized DeJear and said she respects anyone who is willing to put their name on the ballot.

“She worked hard. She traveled across Iowa to take her message to the people,” Reynolds said. “And while we have our differences, we both want Iowa to succeed, and that’s how it should be.”

DeJear, a 36-year-old small business owner, ran on a platform of giving more funding to public schools, improving access to mental health care services and preserving abortion rights in Iowa.

In a speech Tuesday night in Des Moines, DeJear said she wished the results were different, but she said she is proud of the progress she made.

She said people tried to tell her not to run for governor.

“But I’ll you the truth of the matter: every day of the week, democracy is worth fighting for,” she said.

DeJear urged her supporters to not give up.

“Stand strong. Stand mighty in your convictions,” she said. “And know that every bit of work that we put in this campaign was worth it. And don’t you let anybody tell you different, alright Iowa?”

Election Results

Gubernatorial Balance of Power

The Governor candidates

The governor of the State of Iowa is an elected constitutional officer, the head of the executive branch and the highest state office in Iowa. Republican incumbent Kim Reynolds faces Democratic challenger Deidre DeJear and Libertarian candidate Rick Stewart.

Deidre DeJear

DeJear is an activist and small business owner. She was the nominee for secretary of state of Iowa in 2018. She was born in Jackson, Mississippi, raised in Oklahoma and moved to Iowa to attend Drake University.

DeJear worked as the Iowa campaign chair for Kamala Harris’ presidential campaign in 2020.

If elected, DeJear would become Iowa's first Black governor.

Kim Reynolds

Gov. Reynolds is the 43rd governor of Iowa and has served in the position since 2017. She was also the 46th lieutenant governor of Iowa, serving from 2011 to 2017.

Reynolds also served in the Iowa Senate from 2009 to 2010. Prior to that, she served four terms as Clarke County treasurer.

Reynolds has barely mentioned DeJear throughout her re-election campaign. She’s instead focused her attacks on President Joe Biden.

Rick Stewart

Libertarian candidate Stewart, from Postville, has been a police officer in Maquoketa, an activist, and a business owner. He has previously run for office and lost four times.

Stewart briefly paused his campaign when he was arrested and charged with trespassing while participating in a small protest at the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency headquarters in May, where the group was urging federal regulators to allow people with terminal illnesses to use psilocybin, or magic mushrooms, as an experimental treatment.

If elected, Stewart has said he would try to end government regulations on drugs, saying that adults should be allowed to buy drugs such as psilocybin at pharmacies without a prescription.

The issues

Abortion

Earlier this year, Reynolds asked a court to revive a ban on abortions after about six weeks of pregnancy, with some exceptions. Reynolds has said she “won’t rest until every unborn Iowan is protected,” but she hasn’t publicly discussed specifics about other abortion restrictions she may want to sign into law.

In a conversation with IPR, DeJear said she would veto any abortion restrictions lawmakers send to her desk and that she would protect the right to choose.

She declined to say what kinds of abortion policies she would support.

During their only debate on Iowa PBS, Reynolds asked DeJear if she believed in late term abortion.

“That’s a really good question,” DeJear replied. “And what I believe is that my personal belief has no space in a woman’s doctor’s appointment. When she goes into that doctor to make a decision that’s within her best interest, that is her decision.”

Reynolds accused DeJear of supporting “late term abortion.” DeJear pointed out the vast majority of abortions don’t occur late in pregnancy. She proposed a new abortion policy for Iowa.

“I want to codify Roe in our state,” DeJear said. “Because that had the reasonable restrictions with exceptions that most of America agreed upon.”

Reynolds said she believes "we should do everything we can to protect the life of the unborn."

“With the ruling on Roe v. Wade, we’ve asked the courts to revisit that,” Reynolds said. “And so that’s where we’re going to put our efforts into making that bill actually become law. And so we’ll wait until the courts rule, but that’s where the fight is right now.”

During a taping of Iowa Press on Iowa PBS in August, Stewart said he believes life begins at conception, but that governments should not regulate abortion.

“I would never give that decision to a politician,” he said. “I would obviously give that to the person who’s in the position of being pregnant.”

Education

DeJear told IPR that she thinks the public education system needs more resources to help Iowa students compete in the future. Earlier this year, she released an education plan that proposes quickly increasing funding for public schools.

She said the annual percentage increase in base K-12 funding has been lower in the past several years of Republicans controlling the statehouse than it was before, so she wants to give at least a 4% funding increase per year to public schools.

This year, Reynolds proposed and signed into law a 2.5% increase. Reynolds also plans to divert some public school funding to state-funded scholarships that families could use for private school tuition.

Stewart told Iowa Press he would want to change the school’s education system into a model that allows parents to directly hire teachers for their kids, rather than paying taxes to fund the public school system. It’s not clear how Stewart would transition to that model, but he said he would want to start with a trial run and expand from there.

Eminent domain

During their debate, Reynolds and DeJear disagreed on how to respond to some Iowa landowners’ concerns about eminent domain use by private companies.

Three companies are proposing pipelines across the state that would capture carbon emissions from ethanol plants and transport the carbon out of state. Some landowners are refusing to give up a portion of land for these pipelines, and are worried state regulators will allow companies to use their land without their consent.

DeJear said she would’ve “championed” a bill proposed in the last legislative session to block the use of eminent domain for private projects.

“I believe that the landowner should have power in this situation, because they put their blood, sweat and tears into their land,” DeJear said.

Reynolds said she would support the laws that are on the books, which leave the door open to using eminent domain for carbon capture pipelines. She said eminent domain should only be used as a last resort. But she has promoted the carbon capture pipelines as a way to support the biofuels industry.

“Fifty-five percent of our corn goes to ethanol plants today,” Reynolds said. “And if they lose that, if we lost the renewable fuel industry, that will have a tremendous impact on farmers.”

Mental health

Gov. Reynolds led bipartisan efforts that created a framework for adult and children’s mental health.

DeJear says she believes Iowa’s mental health system is failing. She said she hears from parents who are still struggling to find mental health care for their kids and, if elected, she intends to get sometimes months-long wait times for mental health services down to seven days.

Taxes

DeJear told IPR she doesn’t want to raise taxes from the current rates. Reynolds, who has touted the sweeping tax cuts she signed into law this year that will begin to take effect in January, recently said she wants to cut taxes even more, but did not provide details.

Iowa closed the last fiscal year with a budget surplus of nearly $2 billion, which Gov. Reynolds recently highlighted during the debate.

DeJear said that some of that money could be used to fund the priorities she’s laid out. Iowa’s state budget last year was just over $8 billion.

DeJear said she may explore ways to prevent the income tax cuts signed into law by Reynolds this year from fully phasing in over the next few years. Those cuts are expected to start reducing state revenue soon. Any attempt to reverse tax cuts would likely require support from the Republican-led legislature that approved the cuts, and the House and Senate are unlikely to flip to Democratic control this year.

DeJear said most Iowans will eventually see a tax cut of about $55 a month, and she said that doesn’t resolve issues with the state’s education and mental health systems.

“We see the degradation to our education system happening right before our eyes,” DeJear said. “We’re asking our systems to do more with a lot less. We’re seeing that in corrections. We’re seeing that in health care and mental health care services. That surplus is evidence that the Iowa taxpayer dollar is not going to work, it’s just being hoarded.”

Reynolds said $55 a month matters to working families, especially in the face of high inflation and gas prices. She criticized Democrats’ policies.

“The bottom line is they think that they know what to do with your money better than you do,” Reynolds said. “They want to take your money and develop government programs instead of giving it back to Iowans and letting them choose what to do with their money.”

A Des Moines Register/Mediacom Iowa Poll released the day before the debate found 52% of voters said they’d vote for Reynolds, 35% said they’d vote for DeJear, and 4% would vote for Libertarian Rick Stewart.

Katarina Sostaric is IPR's State Government Reporter