When President Donald Trump nominated Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad to be the next Ambassador to China, he set the wheels in motion for Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds to become Iowa’s first leading lady. His journey to Washington has been slow-going, but now, with Branstad soaring through approval hearings, Reynolds could take over the governorship by the end of next week.
With a staunchly Republican stance and a skin-tight budget, the Osceola resident might have a rougher start than anticipated.
In the past, Reynolds has done an impressive job of stimulating business for the state of Iowa – going on trade missions from South America to Asia and, according to her online biography, helping to bring more than $13 billion in new investments to the state.
Unfortunately, the current economic climate in Iowa could prove to be an obstacle. Iowa is straining under the weight of a $231 million budget shortfall experts don’t expect to let up anytime soon. Critics point to generous tax incentives Branstad offered big businesses as the main culprit, which might limit support for incentive packages needed for future economic development when Reynolds needs them the most.
Opposing candidates for the governorship have already started to crawl out of the woodwork. Des Moines-area attorney Nate Boulton announced his Democratic campaign run on Thursday, May 4. By Friday, he’d received backing by 10 labor unions in Iowa, representing 20,000 workers. State Representative Todd Prichard (D-Charles City) is running on a platform for “Forgotten Iowa,” and grassroots candidate Gary Wells from Lamoni has been making the rounds strongly in support of worker rights.
Reynolds is well-prepared for the fight. According to campaign finance reports released Jan. 17, the former Clarke County treasurer has amassed $1,084,979.06 for her run in 2018.
Reynolds is also starting off her time in office at odds with Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller. Earlier, Miller said Reynolds was within her rights to name her own successor. Miller reversed that decision May 1, releasing an official 28-page opinion insisting state law requires a vote to fill the position.
Reynolds intends to move forward with the selection process. Brandstad released the following statement in support, “No new facts or laws have changed since Dec. 13, 2016. Tom Miller has allowed politics to cloud his judgment and is ignoring Iowa law. This politically motivated opinion defies common sense.”
Future plans for Iowa
Like many of her female counterparts in politics, critics have referred to Reynolds as both a cheerleader and a puppet. While Branstad has been an influential mentor, the future governor of Iowa has been an agent of change since before she left home. Reynolds came to Branstad’s attention by making a name for herself as an effective representative, from the courthouse to the statehouse. Raised in a hard-working family in southern Iowa, those Republican roots are her own.
“I’m proud of the progress we made this year in making Iowa an even greater place to live, work and raise a family,” said Reynolds in a press release. “With an unemployment rate the lowest it’s been in 16 years, coupled with many of these reforms, we are truly positioned for greatness in the future. Gov. Branstad and I will take a close look at all of the budget and policy bills that were passed in the past few days, and ensure the budget remains balanced, and policies are implemented that help grow the economy and protect Iowa taxpayers and families.”
If the right pieces should fall into place and Reynolds steps into office in the middle of next week, a local celebration has tentatively been planned in her honor. Stay tuned to our website OsceolaIowa.com for further details.