While Iowa’s Democratic leaders congratulated Kim Reynolds on her swearing in as Iowa’s newest governor, they also offered up deeply skeptical and critical concerns. Only a handful of well-known Democrats attended Reynolds’ ceremony, including legislative leaders Rob Hogg and Mark Smith, as well as Senators Nate Boulton and Rita Hart.
Boulton, who hopes to take on Reynolds as the Democratic nominee in 2018, did a full day of counter-messaging around the event. After leaving the Capitol, Boulton travelled to Cedar Rapids to hold a press conference, attracting most of the Eastern Iowa media contingent.
“Governor Reynolds campaigned on the promise of 200,000 new jobs and a 25% increase in household incomes for working Iowans,” Boulton said at a labor hall. “But instead, she helped lead an administration that has taken away rights and protections in the workplace, underfunded schools, and cut access to healthcare. So, while the Branstad-Reynolds team promised to give Iowans a pay raise, the only one that truly seems to be getting a bump in salary and status because of this administration’s work is Governor Reynolds.”
Poor wages was a common theme for Democratic criticism of the Branstad/Reynolds record. Despite their promises from 2010, the Republican administration often promoted legislation that actually decreased Iowans’ paychecks.
“Too many Iowans have been left behind, wages are stagnant or declining, schools are underfunded, and families are struggling to provide basic care for their loved ones,” Representative Todd Prichard, also aiming for the gubernatorial nomination, said in a statement. “I will never stop fighting for those forgotten Iowans, and I look forward to bringing that fight every day to communities large and small across the state.”
Meanwhile, Progress Iowa launched a website that called out Reynolds for many of the negative aspects of their administration, including underfunding schools, closing healthcare clinics, pollution levels rising and falling farm values.
“Meet the new Governor, same as the old Governor, with failed priorities, empty words, and broken promises,” said Matt Sinovic of Progress Iowa. “But this time, maybe we won’t be fooled again.”
The Iowa Democratic Party also made sure that Reynolds didn’t try to separate herself from any of the more unpopular aspects of Branstad’s time as governor. The Republicans have often highlighted the fact that Reynolds was very much a governing partner with Branstad.
“For years, Governor Reynolds has stood by as our state’s problems have mounted and our future has been jeopardized,” IDP Chair Derek Eadon said. “Instead of prioritizing job creation and the economy, she has pushed for an agenda that puts partisan politics ahead of middle-class Iowans. Governor Reynolds has promoted divisive social issues, while slashing funding for higher education, privatizing Medicaid, closing mental health facilities, and stripping basic rights away from Iowa workers.”
Overall, there was a general sense of distrust from the left in Iowa that a Reynolds Administration would make any meaningful changes from Branstad’s agenda. Her speech did little to assuage those concerns.
by Pat Rynard