Gov. Kim Reynolds is turning her actions during Iowa’s deadly pandemic into a moneymaker for her reelection campaign.
Earlier today, Reynolds’ political account tweeted out a fundraising link with a video of her appearance on Sean Hannity’s Fox News show where she promoted her rollback of many of Iowa’s COVID safety measures.
In it, the governor framed her decision to end the mask mandate and social distancing rules for bars and restaurants in a much different manner than she has when speaking to the Iowa public. Instead of ending the safety measures because Iowa’s COVID hospitalization rate fallen, Reynolds pitches her actions as fighting the “radicals on the Left.”
Since Reynolds’ surprise move that was announced the Friday night before the Super Bowl, her team has carefully messaged the decision to draw political benefit from it. After receiving withering criticism in Iowa and nationally for greatly loosening health measures while the state struggled to distribute the vaccine, Reynolds went to Fox News for a supportive, easy interview.
“I didn’t pursue aggressive lockdown strategies. Instead, I put my faith in Iowans and Iowa businesses. We kept over 80% of our economy open, ” Reynolds told Hannity.
Reynolds’ conservative base in the state largely agrees with her hands-off approach to the virus, even as over 5,000 Iowans have lost their lives to it. And her top donors — especially those who run meatpacking plants — have particularly appreciated her efforts to keep businesses open at all costs, even if it’s come at the expense of workers’ health and lives.
Iowa can expect to see Reynolds’ COVID management — or her imagined version of it, at least — feature as a key point in her reelection campaign for 2022. And the months ahead will likely see more pandemic decisions from the governor based not off of public health, but how it could play among her political base in Iowa.
by Pat Rynard
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