Reynolds, DeJear debate for first and only time in 2022 campaign for Iowa governor
Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds and Democratic challenger Deidre DeJear disagreed on abortion policy, eminent domain use, and tax cuts during a debate Monday night hosted by Iowa PBS. It’s the only debate in the Iowa governor’s race this year, as Reynolds has refused DeJear’s request to do three debates like she did in 2018.
Reynolds has barely mentioned DeJear throughout her re-election campaign. She’s instead focused her attacks on President Joe Biden.
But when it came to one of the biggest topics of this election cycle—abortion—Reynolds turned to DeJear to ask a question.
“Do you believe in late term abortion?” Reynolds asked.
“That’s a really good question,” DeJear said. “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.”
The Roe v. Wade decision that was overturned this summer protected the right to abortion before a fetus is able to survive outside the womb. State leaders now have a lot more power to restrict abortion before a fetus is viable.
“I believe that we should do everything we can to protect the life of the unborn,” Reynolds said.
But she declined to say how far she’d be willing to go with banning abortion. Reynolds signed a bill into law in 2018 to ban abortions after about six weeks of pregnancy, with exceptions. A judge ruled it unconstitutional, and it never took effect.
“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.”
Reynolds and DeJear also 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.”
Reynolds touted the sweeping tax cuts she signed into law this year that will begin to take effect in January. And she highlighted the $1.9 billion budget surplus the state was left with at the end of the last fiscal 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.”
Reynolds said she’s not done cutting taxes, but she didn’t give details on her plans.
A Des Moines Register/Mediacom Iowa Poll released the day before the debate found 52 percent of voters said they’d vote for Reynolds, 35 percent said they’d vote for DeJear, and 4 percent would vote for Libertarian Rick Stewart.
Early voting begins Wednesday, and Election Day is Nov. 8.