|43rd Governor of Iowa|
|Assumed office |
May 24, 2017
|Preceded by||Terry Branstad|
|46th Lieutenant Governor of Iowa|
January 14, 2011 – May 24, 2017
|Preceded by||Patty Judge|
|Succeeded by||Adam Gregg|
|Member of the Iowa Senate|
from the 48th district
January 11, 2009 – November 12, 2010
|Preceded by||Jeff Angelo|
|Succeeded by||Joni Ernst|
Kimberly Kay Strawn
August 4, 1959
St. Charles, Iowa, U.S.
|Education||Iowa State University (BLS)|
Reynolds previously served as the 46th Lieutenant Governor of Iowa from 2011 to 2017. Before she was elected Lieutenant Governor, Reynolds served as Clarke County Treasurer for four terms and then served in the Iowa Senate from 2009 to 2010. Reynolds became Governor of Iowa in May 2017 when her predecessor, Terry Branstad, stepped down to become United States Ambassador to China. She won a full term as governor in the 2018 gubernatorial election.
Early life and education
Reynolds attended Northwest Missouri State University, for one semester (Fall 1977) where she took classes in business, consumer sciences and clothing sales and design. She dropped out of college after one semester. She later took classes at Southeastern Community College in the late 1980s, and then took accounting classes at Southwestern Community College between 1992 and 1995. She left both of these institutions. Reynolds began partially online classes at Iowa State University in 2012, and received a Bachelor of Liberal Studies degree in December 2016.
Reynolds was twice charged with driving under the influence of alcohol, first in 1999 and again in August 2000. In 2000, she was initially charged with an aggravated misdemeanor, but pleaded guilty to a lesser offense. In 2017, Reynolds stated that she sought inpatient treatment for alcoholism following her second arrest and that she had been sober for nearly 17 years.
Reynolds served four terms as the Clarke County treasurer. On November 4, 2008, she was elected to represent the 48th district in the Iowa Senate, defeating Democratic candidate Ruth Smith and independent candidate Rodney Schmidt. In 2010, Reynolds endorsed a ban on same-sex marriage in Iowa.
Lieutenant Governor of Iowa
On June 25, 2010, Republican gubernatorial nominee Terry Branstad publicly proposed Reynolds to be his running mate as the lieutenant governor candidate. The next day, she received the Republican nomination from the 2010 Republican State Convention. On November 2, 2010, the Branstad/Reynolds ticket won the general election. Reynolds resigned from her Senate seat on November 12, 2010, ahead of taking office as lieutenant governor.
Reynolds was sworn in on January 14, 2011. Reynolds co-chaired the Governor's Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) Advisory Council, Iowa Partnership for Economic Progress board, and the Military Children Education Coalition and was also Branstad's representative on the board of the Iowa State Fair.
Governor of Iowa
On May 24, 2017, Reynolds assumed the governorship upon the resignation of Governor Terry Branstad, who stepped down to become the new United States Ambassador to China. Reynolds is the first female Governor of Iowa.
Reynolds's elevation to the governorship created a vacancy in the office of Lieutenant Governor of Iowa; reports indicated that her selection of a lieutenant governor could be challenged in the Iowa Supreme Court. An opinion from the Attorney General of Iowa indicated that "an individual promoted from lieutenant governor to governor, as was Reynolds, [did] not have the authority to appoint a new lieutenant governor." On May 25, 2017, Reynolds announced that Iowa Public Defender Adam Gregg would serve as acting lieutenant governor; to avoid litigation, the Reynolds administration stated that Gregg "[would] not hold the official position of lieutenant governor" and would not succeed Reynolds in the event of her inability to serve as governor.
In 2018, Reynolds proposed cutting $10 million from the Medicaid program which cares for eligible low-income adults, children, pregnant women, elderly adults and people with disabilities. In 2020, Reynolds proposed a 1-cent increase in the state sales tax (bringing it to 8 cents), offset by a phrased reduction in the state income tax, including a cut in the tax rate for the top income bracket, from 9% to 5.5%. Reynolds' proposed restructuring of the state tax code would represent a further reduction in income taxes, going beyond 2018 legislation (passed by Republicans in the state legislature and signed into law by Reynolds) that was the largest income tax cut in Iowa history. Her proposed sales-tax increase, however, was largely opposed by state legislators.
In 2018, following the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in Obergefell v. Hodges (2015), Reynolds described same-sex marriage as a "settled" issue and said that she did not consider herself obligated to follow the Iowa Republican Party platform provision against same-sex marriage.
Reynolds is a staunch supporter of Donald Trump. Reynolds blocked two-thirds of requests from Democratic state Attorney General Tom Miller to join multi-state lawsuits challenging Trump administration policies or to submit amicus briefs in such suits; among the vetoed requests were proposals to challenge Trump policies related to immigration, asylum, abortion, birth control, environmental deregulation, gun policy, and LGBT rights. Reynolds blocked Miller from including Iowa in a legal challenge to the Trump administration's repeal of the Clean Power Plan, an Obama-era regulation that restricted emissions of greenhouses gases (such as carbon) to counteract climate change. In 2018, Reynolds acknowledged that Trump's trade and tariff policies were hurting American farmers (who suffered from a decline in agriculture exports due to tariffs imposed by other nations in retaliation to Trump's tariffs), but then claimed that farmers would ultimately benefit. Reynolds made campaign appearances with Trump during the 2020 presidential campaign; in the November election, Trump carried Iowa, but was defeated nationally by Joe Biden, who won both the electoral vote and the national popular vote. After Trump's loss, Reynolds did not denounce the president's claims of election fraud and refused to acknowledge Biden's victory until January 2021, when the electoral votes were formally counted by Congress. Reynolds condemned the storming of the Capitol, which disrupted the formal counting of the electoral votes, but said many people believed the election was "not valid."
In May 2018, Reynolds signed a bill to revamp Iowa's energy efficiency policies. Also in May 2018, Reynolds signed a fetal heartbeat bill, one of the U.S.'s most restrictive abortion bans. In January 2019, the law was struck down by an Iowa state judge, who declared it unconstitutional. Reynolds chose not to appeal, saying that she did not believe that "a losing legal battle" would advance the anti-abortion cause. Reynolds has repeatedly called for an amendment to the state Constitution to state that it does not protect abortion rights; such an amendment would overturn a 2019 Iowa Supreme Court decision concluding that the right to an abortion is protected by the state constitution. In 2021, Reynolds signed a bill into law that forced women getting abortion to wait for 24 hours; the law was struck down by an Iowa court.
Reynolds began her first full term on January 18, 2019. In March 2019, Reynolds signed a bill into law requiring public universities to protect all speech on campus. Through her judicial appointments, Reynolds shifted the Iowa Supreme Court to the right. Reynolds's attorney, Sam Langholz, was appointed to a position in the Attorney General's office to defend her policies in court.
In June 2020, a vehicle driven by a Iowa State Patrol trooper carrying Reynolds hit a Black Lives Matter protester in Ackley. The State Patrol and Reynolds contended that the protester intentionally stepped in front of the vehicle's path and that the driver acted appropriately, while the protester contended that he was intentionally struck.
Reynolds launched an anti-vaping social media campaign in December 2019 in an effort to reduce vaping among Iowa youth. In July 2020, Reynolds signed legislation that raised the minimum legal age to buy tobacco products, including vaping products, to 21.
From 2017 to April 2020, Reynolds restored the voting rights of 543 felons, more than her roughly 200 restorations that her predecessor gave over almost seven years in office. In August 2020, Reynolds signed an executive order permitting felons to vote in Iowa elections upon completing their sentence. Iowa previously imposed a lifetime ban on felons voting, unless the governor personally restored their voting rights, the strictest law in the country. In explaining her belief in second chances, Reynolds referred to her experiences two decades earlier, in which she twice pleaded guilty to DUI and subsequently recovered from alcoholism, an experience that Reynolds cites as an important turning point in her life.
Reynolds has a close relationship with the Iowa pork industry, and in particular with Iowa Select, one of the country's largest pork producers. Reynolds donated an afternoon of her time as part of a 2019 charity auction to benefit the foundation run by the company's owners, a couple that contributed almost $300,000 to Reynolds's campaigns. The winning bid was placed by a Republican donor who is influential in the pork industry. The director of the Iowa Ethics and Campaign Disclosure Board said that he did not believe that the auction did not violate state law, but attorneys for two former Democratic governors of Iowa said that it created the appearance of impropriety and was an error in judgment. In May and July 2020, Reynolds' administration arranged for COVID-19 testing to be done at the suburban West Des Moines headquarters of Iowa Select, and at the Waverly facility partly owned by another campaign donor, at a time when those most vulnerable to the disease (healthcare workers and residents of nursing homes and other congregate-living facilities) were unable to timely get tested. A separate pork production company that had donated $25,000 to Reynolds' campaign received a disproportionate benefit from a state pandemic business-aid program, receiving 72% of the program's initial rounds of disbursements. After the testing came to light in January 2021, Reynolds was criticized by Polk County Supervisor Matt McCoy, and State Auditor Rob Sand began an investigation into whether special treatment was accorded to political donors over essential workers and vulnerable persons.
In March 2021, Reynolds signed a bill into law that shortened the opening hours of poll places on Election Day and reduced the early voting period, as well as required that absentee ballots be received by ballot places before the close on Election Day. Reynolds said the legislation would protect election integrity. It was part of a wider effort by Republicans across the country to roll back voting access. Democrats won the 2020 presidential election, with Donald Trump and many other Republicans making false claims of fraud.
On April 2, 2021, Reynolds signed a bill allowing individuals to purchase and carry handguns without a permit, a policy referred to as constitutional carry. Later that month, Reynolds signed legislation that would allow landlords to reject tenants who pay rent with Section 8 vouchers.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, Reynolds did not follow public health guidance and scientific recommendations in dealing with the virus. Reynolds signed a Proclamation of Disaster Emergency on March 9, 2020. That same month she ordered the closure of some recreational businesses and school closure. She ordered a halt to what she described as "non-essential" surgeries, which included surgical abortions. During the pandemic, Reynolds did not implement a stay-at-home order. She did not follow the advice of Iowa health officials, and did not implement a requirement to wear face masks in public places until after the November 2020 election, when she made face masks at large gatherings mandatory. In June, recreational businesses such as bars and restaurants were fully reopened, which was followed by surges in coronavirus case numbers. Reynolds said that the science on the effectiveness of face masks in halting the coronavirus pandemic was not settled, although there was nearly unanimous scientific and medical support that the wearing of face masks in public prevented virus transmission, and the use of face masks is recommended by World Health Organization, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and Iowa Department of Health. In July 2020, Reynolds contended that face mask mandates implemented by localities in Iowa were "not appropriate" and unlawful and sought to block them, making Iowa one of the only U.S. states without any enforceable local or state mask mandates. The mayor of Iowa City rejected Reynolds' claim and issued a municipal order requiring the use of face coverings in indoor public places; he cited the state Constitution's home-rule authority and a state statute that grants mayors power during a time of "emergency or public danger."
In July 2020, Reynolds said she would invalidate plans implemented by some school districts to limit in-person classes to one day a week for most students, with online learning on other days, overriding local school districts and requiring students to spend at least half of their schooling in classrooms. The plan was criticized by the Iowa State Education Association (the state teachers' union), and prompted Iowa public school teachers to begin sending their obituaries to Reynolds in protest Despite the outcry from teachers, who noted that social distancing was often impossible in school settings and that many teachers had not yet been vaccinated, in late January 2021 Reynolds signed a bill, passed by the state legislature along party lines, that required school districts to provide full-time in-person classes upon parents' request.
In 2020, Reynolds had the lowest approval rating of any governor in the nation for handling of the COVID-19, with an approval rating of 28% in July 2020, and 26% in September 2020. COVID-19 in Iowa peaked in November 2020, but remained high into the next year, in late January 2021, the state had the nation's third-highest positivity rate, and third-lowest per capita vaccination rate.
In September 2020, the Reynolds administration broke with the CDC's quarantine guidelines, revoking guidelines recommending that people exposed to the virus quarantine for 14 days, "if the infected person and close contacts were wearing masks properly." In October 2020, she appeared at an indoor fundraiser for the Republican Party, and a large rally in an airport hangar for President Donald Trump; attendees did not wear masks or socially distance at the events.
In November 2020, Reynolds issued a statewide mask mandate, ordering anyone over age 2 to wear a mask in indoor public spaces, a reversal of previous claim that face masks are merely a "feel good" measure. When issuing the order, Reynolds said, "No one wants to do this. I don't want to do this," adding "If Iowans don't buy into this, we'll lose. Businesses will close once again, more schools will be forced to go online, and our health care system will fail."
In February 2021, while the pandemic was still going on, Reynolds rolled back requirements on face masks in indoor public places, as well as rolled back restrictions on indoor dining. Reynolds decided to lift the public health measures without consulting with experts at the Iowa Department of Public Health. The CDC urged states not to loosen their COVID-19 public health measures.
In May 2021, Reynolds signed a bill into law that prohibited businesses and local governments from requiring customers to have proof of vaccination. She also signed a bill into law that prohibited school districts from requiring the use of masks.
Iowa Senate history
|Iowa State Senate District 48 Republican primary election, 2008|
2008 general election
|Iowa State Senate District 48 general election, 2008|
|Republican||Terry Branstad / Kim Reynolds||592,494||52.8%||+8.2|
|Democratic||Chet Culver (incumbent) / Patty Judge (incumbent)||484,798||43.2%||-10.8|
|Iowa Party||Jonathan Narcisse / Richard Marlar||20,859||1.9%||n/a|
|Libertarian||Eric Cooper / Nick Weltha||14,398||1.3%||+0.7|
|Independent||Gregory Hughes / Robin Prior-Calef||3,884||0.4%||n/a|
|Socialist Workers||David Rosenfeld / Helen Meyers||2,757||0.3%||+.05|
|Republican gain from Democratic||Swing|
|Republican||Terry Branstad (incumbent) / Kim Reynolds (incumbent)||666,032||58.99%||+6.18%|
|Democratic||Jack Hatch / Monica Vernon||420,787||37.27%||-5.94%|
|Libertarian||Lee Deakins Hieb / Tim Watson||20,321||1.80%||+0.52%|
|Independent||Jim Hennager / Mary Margaret Krieg||10,582||0.94%||N/A|
|Iowa||Jonathan R. Narcisse / Michael L. Richards||10,240||0.91%||-0.95%|
In June 2017, Reynolds stated that she would seek a full term as Governor of Iowa in the 2018 election.
Reynolds' decision to have Rep. Steve King co-chair her campaign stirred controversy, as King has a history of remarks that have been described as racist. The Des Moines Register editorial board wrote, "Gov. Kim Reynolds has kept him on as her campaign co-chairman, while muttering increasingly thin-lipped denials that she agrees with his ideological extremism." Reynolds had previously praised King, saying he was "a strong defender of freedom and our conservative values". After Election Day, Reynolds criticized King and said that he needed to change his approach.
Reynolds won the Republican nomination for Governor and defeated Democrat Fred Hubbell and Libertarian Jake Porter in the general election on November 6, 2018. Reynolds made history as the first woman elected Governor of Iowa. While polls showed that she was trailing Hubbell, she defeated him, 50.3%–47.5%. She won primarily by sweeping nearly the entire state west of Des Moines. In particular, she dominated the state's 4th congressional district, which she carried with almost 61 percent of the vote.
|Republican||Kim Reynolds (incumbent) / Adam Gregg||667,275||50.26%||-8.73%|
|Democratic||Fred Hubbell / Rita R. Hart||630,986||47.53%||+10.26%|
|Libertarian||Jake Porter / Lynne Gentry||21,426||1.61%||-0.19%|
|Independent||Gary Siegwarth / Natalia Blaskovich||7,463||0.56%||N/A|
- List of female governors in the United States
- List of female lieutenant governors in the United States
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