Will Governor’s Race Come Down To Medicaid Or Younkers?

When Iowans enter the voting booth in November, which will weigh more heavily on their mind: Younkers or Medicaid?

That seems to be what the race for governor is boiling down to at this point as Governor Kim Reynolds and Fred Hubbell are now months into their TV ad campaigns. Reynolds hopes to turn Hubbell’s business executive experience from the 1980s into a liability. Hubbell wants voters to focus on the broken privatized Medicaid system that many see Reynolds mismanaging.

This week, Hubbell rolled out his hardest-hitting ad to date, one that features a quadriplegic man whose in-home care was cut after Medicaid privatization. He had to sell his home and move to get new services.

“I was forced to move and it was all because of inability to find access to healthcare,” Tucker Cassidy says in a longer video. “I do not believe that privatization is saving us any money at all. Healthcare situations are getting worse and Governor Reynolds is saying it’s getting better? People are dying.”

Hubbell’s campaign is also asking anyone who might have their own personal experience about their struggles with privatized Medicaid to submit their story online. Considering how many heartbreaking stories the Des Moines Register has found on their own since Terry Branstad made the switch to the new system, one can only imagine how many people may share theirs to the Democratic nominee. Hubbell’s operation should have a large collection of additional personal testimonials to knock Reynolds with between now and the election.

Some Democratic strategists wonder about running campaigns on issues like Medicaid. In general, there’s many government programs that may poll decently well or that people say they support, but if they’re not specifically benefitting from the program, they may not base their vote specifically on it.

However, the situation in Iowa seems to be different. For one, Medicaid serves over 600,000 people in Iowa in some form. The drastic change in care and services, the constant confusion from providers and the unpaid bills have been traumatic and life-changing for many people. With 600,000 recipients, most Iowans are likely to know someone with a very compelling personal story of what happened since privatization.

Moreover, the privatization debacle speaks to Reynolds’ management skills and judgement. There has been nonstop headlines about secrecy over the costs and MCOs pulling out of the system or getting raises. Iowans were told that this system would save taxpayers money, but it has constantly cost more than advertised and care is undeniably worse. Any voter can be upset over the plain mismanagement of a major part of state government.

Reynolds, on the other hand, would prefer to spend much of her messaging campaign poking holes in Hubbell’s biography. To be fair, she and Republicans are also highlighting Iowa’s very low unemployment rate and the state’s top national rankings in several different categories. But it’s the attacks on Hubbell that dominate the TV airwaves and press coverage.

She hopes to turn Hubbell into a Mitt Romney-like candidate by highlighting past pay raises Hubbell received and layoffs that Younkers underwent in the 1980s. More importantly, though, keeping the focus on Hubbell’s past keeps voters’ attention off the present, including whatever is the latest scandal or controversy in state government. Most voters don’t know about Hubbell’s entire life history, so it’s something new to them – whether or not they decide that his experience is an overall positive, it distracts from the reasons to vote Reynolds out.

If the gubernatorial campaign comes down to a debate over whether or not Younkers was successful in the 1980s, Reynolds is probably looking good for reelection. If it’s a referendum on Reynolds’ leadership, the budget and overall management of state government, Hubbell has a good shot of moving into Terrace Hill.

A continual barrage of Iowans’ real-life stories of how they’re struggling to survive under privatized Medicaid will be hard for voters to ignore. But campaigns are also about personalities, and Reynolds has had success in positioning herself as a small-town Iowa girl while driving the narrative about Hubbell.

Of course, it’s very telling that Reynolds would prefer voters to concentrate on a distorted view of Hubbell’s business management from 30 years ago rather than the Iowans who are facing life-and-death situations right now from a broken Medicaid system. That’s just how elections go these days.


by Pat Rynard
Posted 8/29/18

7 Comments on "Will Governor’s Race Come Down To Medicaid Or Younkers?"

  • I was wondering how long it would take for Fred Hubbell to start highlighting medicaid. There are way too many gut-wrenching stories out there to not be using some of them to highlight the BS that has happened since the switch. The fact that Reynolds more or less canned (not re-appointed, whatever) the guy on the committee sounding the alarm on that one is telling big-time!!

    I was wondering when Hubbell was going to start landing direct hits on Reynolds. Yes he has attacked Reynolds but, its been mostly combo-pokes at her lousy record that I don’t think landed at all. These combo-pokes were not connecting because he put too many things in one ad that most people don’t have the attention span to dissect into how it affects people.

    Michael Avenatti was right when he said that, When they go low, we hit back harder. Reynolds signaled early on with the first Younkers ad that things were going to get nasty. The thing is that the truth lies with Hubbell, not Reynolds. There is plenty there with her record. He would not have to lie to land direct hits. All he has to do is highlight one thing at a time and swing hard highlighting the negative that her policies have on average Iowans.

  • Here’s hoping that in the year 2018 citizens of this state might put the future of themselves and their families first rather than a personality blithely glossing over the actual facts of a situation today. Why would anyone vote for a candidate who does not believe every citizen/human being is entitled to equal dignity and respect?

  • Should be a very, very close election. Hubbell wasn’t the best Democrat available and his vast wealth is a two edged sword. Reynolds has been trying to get out from under Terry’s shadow. I’d say the race is 52%-48% in either direction. ..too close to call right now.

  • If a right-leaning Democrat can’t beat an alt-right ALEC-trained, Koch-funded Republican default governor, there’s something wrong with Iowa. Economic security, affordable and universal healthcare for every Iowan, support of family farms and regulation of corporate farms, environmental equity, and a return to fully-funded public education — my fellow Iowans, there’s no better time than now to return the state to responsible governance. oh, and did I mention taking Medicare and Medicaid back from the private-sector greed mongers?

  • This is a topsy turvy world we live in. Show Reynolds’ ad bashing Hubbell to some random person from Ohio, and they’d think Hubbell was the Republican.

    I don’t like bashing successful business people. Typically the Ds will do it in ads, but I don’t like it when the Rs do it either. I’m not sure what her campaign staff was thinking about that–other than maybe to plant seeds of doubt and tamp down enthusiasm of D voters.

  • There’s a “Clear Water Party” gubernatorial candidate on the Iowa ballot this year, and in a political race that is so tight, it could make a difference if that candidate took any votes from Hubbell. I have nothing against the candidate personally, but I really hope he won’t get any votes.

    As a strongly-conservation-minded voter, I understand the frustration felt by some voters because some Democratic officials in Iowa aren’t doing enough for the environment. But a vote for the “Clear Water Party” candidate would just be a vote for Reynolds. She is notably awful on conservation issues, and Hubbell would be far, far better.

  • This is a throw back election with the two party’s putting up candidates with long standings and loyalties within those party’s . So no standouts of interest to get enthusiastic about, so we will get the harvest we deserve for the seeds we’ve sown . There is nothing for the largest voting block to get interested in because with ether one it will be your slandered run of the mill bull crap for another 4 yrs while we drift aimlessly as a state . There is nothing about being forward looking that exemplifies ether of these two ! Enjoy 4 more years of nothing . Perhaps next time well find a candidate with some fire in their being, that will stir a majority interest, PERHAPS !!!

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