Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds successfully defeated her Democratic challenger in pursuit of her first full term in office in the Hawkeye State.
Reynolds edged out Fred Hubbell, a business executive and former chair of the department store and online retailer Younkers, retaining Republicans’ control over Iowa’s state government. Libertarian candidate Jake Porter came in third in Tuesday’s election.
Reynolds first rose to the governor position in May 2017 when President Donald Trump tapped her boss, Terry Branstad, to become the US ambassador to China. A few months later, though, she found herself in a nail-biting race for her seat, which local media long predicted would be the state’s most expensive to date.
Though she promised to be a well-funded incumbent, Hubbell poured millions of his own money into the campaign, outspending Reynolds but eventually failing to prevail in the race. The Cook Political Report considered the match a toss-up in the final month before Election Day, and a Des Moines Register/Mediacom poll showed Hubbell with a 2-point lead just days ago.
President Trump stayed remarkably silent throughout fall and didn’t weigh in on this crucial race for the Republican Party — and for good reason. Trump carried the state in 2016 with the largest margin by a GOP president since Ronald Reagan. Now, though, just 44 percent of Iowa voters approve of his job performance, so distancing himself from Reynolds certainly paid off in her campaign.
Reynolds’s signature achievements in office has likely been moving Iowa’s roughly 680,000 Medicaid enrollees into managed care, in which private health plans administer Medicaid’s benefits. Though Hubbell said he was looking to reverse the privatization, Reynolds has promised to continue the plan, as well as a massive tax cut that will decrease the state’s revenue by $2 billion over the next six years.