Kim Reynolds

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Kim Reynolds
Reynolds in 2023
43rd Governor of Iowa
Assumed office
May 24, 2017
LieutenantAdam Gregg[1]
Preceded byTerry Branstad
Chair of the Republican Governors Association
Assumed office
November 17, 2022
Preceded byDoug Ducey
Pete Ricketts
46th Lieutenant Governor of Iowa
In office
January 14, 2011 – May 24, 2017
GovernorTerry Branstad
Preceded byPatty Judge
Succeeded byAdam Gregg
Member of the Iowa Senate
from the 48th district
In office
January 11, 2009 – January 2, 2011
Preceded byJeff Angelo
Succeeded byJoni Ernst
Personal details
Kimberly Kay Strawn

(1959-08-04) August 4, 1959 (age 64)
St. Charles, Iowa, U.S.
Political partyRepublican
Kevin Reynolds
(m. 1982)
ResidenceTerrace Hill
EducationIowa State University (BLS)

Kimberly Kay Reynolds (née Strawn; born August 4, 1959) is an American politician serving as the 43rd governor of Iowa since 2017. A member of the Republican Party, Reynolds served as the 46th lieutenant governor of Iowa from 2011 to 2017.

Reynolds served four terms as Clarke County treasurer beginning in 1994[2] and then served in the Iowa Senate from 2009 to 2011. She became governor in May 2017 when Governor Terry Branstad stepped down to become the United States ambassador to China. She won a full term as governor in 2018, and was reelected in 2022.

Early life and education[edit]

Reynolds with husband Kevin Reynolds in 2010

Reynolds was born Kimberly Kay Strawn in St. Charles, Iowa. She graduated from high school at the Interstate 35 Community School District in 1977.[3]

Reynolds attended Northwest Missouri State University, taking classes in business, consumer sciences and clothing sales and design. She later took classes at Southeastern Community College in the late 1980s, and then accounting classes at Southwestern Community College between 1992 and 1995.[4] In 2012, she began taking classes in the bachelor of public administration program at Upper Iowa University.[5] She did not earn degrees from any of these institutions. In 2016, Iowa State University awarded her a Bachelor of Liberal Studies degree.[6][7]

Early political career[edit]

Reynolds during her time in the Iowa Senate

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 nominee Ruth Smith and independent candidate Rodney Schmidt.[8] In 2010, Reynolds endorsed a ban on same-sex marriage in Iowa.[9]

Lieutenant governor of Iowa[edit]

On June 25, 2010, Republican gubernatorial nominee Terry Branstad publicly selected Reynolds to be his running mate as the lieutenant governor candidate. The next day, she received the Republican nomination at the Republican state convention. On November 2, 2010, the Branstad/Reynolds ticket won the general election.[10][11] Reynolds resigned her Senate seat on November 12 before taking office as lieutenant governor.[12]

Reynolds was sworn in as lieutenant governor of Iowa on January 14, 2011.[13] She 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. She was also Branstad's representative on the board of the Iowa State Fair.[14]

Reynolds was elected chair of the National Lieutenant Governors Association (NLGA) in July 2015.[15]

Governor of Iowa[edit]


On May 24, 2017, Reynolds became governor of Iowa upon the resignation of Branstad, who stepped down to become United States Ambassador to China. She is Iowa's first female governor.[16]

Reynolds's elevation to the governorship created a vacancy in the office of lieutenant governor. Reports indicated that Reynolds's selection of a lieutenant governor could be challenged in the Iowa Supreme Court.[17] 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."[18] 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.[18]

In 2018, Reynolds proposed cutting $10 million from Medicaid, which cares for eligible low-income adults, children, pregnant women, elderly adults and people with disabilities.[19] In 2020, she proposed a one-cent increase in the state sales tax (bringing it to 8 cents), offset by a phased reduction in the state income tax, including a cut in the rate for the top bracket from 9% to 5.5%.[20] Reynolds's 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.[20] Her proposed sales-tax increase, however, was largely opposed by state legislators.[21]

In 2018, after the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in Obergefell v. Hodges (2015), Reynolds called same-sex marriage a "settled" issue and said that she did not consider herself obligated to follow the Iowa Republican Party platform provision against same-sex marriage.[22][23]

Reynolds is a staunch supporter of Donald Trump.[24][25] She 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.[26] 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.[27] In 2018, she acknowledged that Trump's trade and tariff policies were hurting American farmers (as agriculture exports declined due to tariffs imposed by other nations in retaliation for Trump's tariffs), but then claimed that farmers would ultimately benefit.[28][29][30] Reynolds made campaign appearances with Trump during the 2020 presidential campaign; in the November election, Trump carried Iowa, but lost nationally to Joe Biden, who won both the electoral vote and the national popular vote.[24] After Trump's loss, Reynolds did not denounce Trump's claims of election fraud and refused to acknowledge Biden's victory until January 2021, when Congress formally counted the electoral votes.[24] She condemned the storming of the Capitol, which disrupted the counting of the electoral votes, but said many people believed the election was "not valid".[24]

In May 2018, Reynolds signed a bill to revamp Iowa's energy efficiency policies.[31] Also in May 2018, she signed a "fetal heartbeat bill", one of the nation's most restrictive abortion bans.[32][33] In January 2019, an Iowa state judge struck the law down as unconstitutional.[34] Reynolds chose not to appeal, saying she did not believe that "a losing legal battle" would advance the anti-abortion cause.[33] She has repeatedly called for an amendment to the state constitution to the effect that it does not protect abortion rights; such an amendment would overturn a 2019 Iowa Supreme Court decision concluding that the state constitution does protect the right to an abortion.[20] In 2021, Reynolds signed into law a bill that forced women getting abortion to wait for 24 hours; an Iowa court struck the law down.[35]

Reynolds began her first full term on January 18, 2019. In March 2019, she signed into law a bill requiring public universities to protect all speech on campus.[36][37] Through her judicial appointments, Reynolds shifted the Iowa Supreme Court to the right.[38] Her attorney, Sam Langholz, was appointed to a position in the attorney general's office to defend her policies in court.[39]

In December 2019, Reynolds launched an anti-vaping social media campaign in an effort to reduce vaping among Iowa youth.[40] In July 2020, she signed legislation that raised the minimum legal age to buy tobacco products, including vaping products, to 21.[41]

From 2017 to April 2020, Reynolds restored the voting rights of 543 felons, more than the roughly 200 restorations that her predecessor gave over almost seven years in office.[25] In August 2020, she 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.[25][42][43] Explaining her order, Reynolds referred to her experiences two decades earlier, when she twice pleaded guilty to DUI and subsequently recovered from alcoholism, an experience she cites as an important turning point in her life.[25]

Reynolds has a close relationship with the Iowa pork industry, and in particular with Iowa Select, one of the country's largest pork producers. She donated an afternoon of her time as part of a 2019 charity auction to benefit the company's owners' foundation; the owners had contributed almost $300,000 to Reynolds's campaigns.[44] A Republican donor who is influential in the pork industry placed the winning bid. The director of the Iowa Ethics and Campaign Disclosure Board said that he did not believe the auction violated 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.[44] In May and July 2020, Reynolds's administration arranged for COVID-19 testing to be done at Iowa Select's West Des Moines headquarters 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.[45] A separate pork production company that had donated $25,000 to Reynolds's campaign received a disproportionate benefit from a state pandemic business-aid program, receiving 72% of the program's initial rounds of disbursements.[46] After the testing came to light in January 2021, Polk County Supervisor Matt McCoy criticized Reynolds, and State Auditor Rob Sand began an investigation into whether special treatment was accorded to political donors over essential workers and vulnerable persons.[45]

In March 2021, Reynolds signed into law a bill that shortened the hours of polling places on Election Day, reduced the early voting period, and required that absentee ballots be received by ballot places before the end of Election Day.[47] She said the legislation would protect election integrity.[47] It was part of a wider effort by Republicans across the country to roll back voting access. Democrats won the 2020 presidential election, with Trump and many other Republicans making false claims of fraud.[47]

On April 2, 2021, Reynolds signed a bill allowing individuals to purchase and carry handguns without a permit, a policy known as constitutional carry.[48][49][50][51] Later that month, she signed legislation that would allow landlords to reject tenants who pay rent with Section 8 vouchers.[52]

On March 1, 2022, as a prominent national female leader, Reynolds was selected to deliver the Republican response to President Biden's State of the Union address.[53]

On March 3, 2022, Reynolds signed into law a bill that bans transgender girls and women from participating on designated female sports teams.[54]

COVID-19 pandemic[edit]

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Reynolds disregarded public health guidance and scientific recommendations regarding mask mandates.[55] She signed a Proclamation of Disaster Emergency on March 9, 2020.[56] Also that month, she ordered closures of some recreational businesses and additional school closures[57][58] and ordered a halt to "non-essential" or elective surgeries, including surgical abortions,[59] but implemented no stay-at-home orders.[57] In April 2020, Iowa health officials advised Reynolds to enforce face coverings and not ease restrictions. In response, she took the stance that it was better to reopen the economy and encourage people to be responsible and wear masks.[60] Reynolds did not implement a requirement to wear masks in public places until after the November 2020 election, when she ordered the mandatory wearing of masks at large gatherings.[61][57] In June, recreational businesses such as bars and restaurants were permitted to fully reopen, which was followed by surges in coronavirus infections.[57] Reynolds said that the effectiveness of face masks in halting the virus's spread was not settled, although doctors and scientists nearly unanimously held that wearing masks in public substantially reduced viral transmission, and their use is recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and Iowa's own Department of Health.[62] In the absence of any evidence of her contention, in July 2020, Reynolds said that Iowa localities' mask mandates were "not appropriate" and unlawful,[55] and she sought to block them, making Iowa one of the only U.S. states lacking any enforceable local or state mask mandates.[63] Iowa City's mayor rejected Reynolds's 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 powers during a time of "emergency or public danger".[63]

In April 2020, on the advice of native Iowan actor and entrepreneur Ashton Kutcher, Reynolds signed a contract with Utah startup Nomi Health to develop a COVID-19 testing program called TestIowa.[64][65][66] She was eventually sued for refusing to release public records related to the $26 million no-bid contract.[67]

In July 2020, Reynolds said she would invalidate some school districts' plans 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.[68] The state teachers' union, the Iowa State Education Association, criticized her move.[68][69] Iowa public school teachers to begin sending Reynolds their obituaries in protest.[70] 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.[69]

In 2020, Reynolds had the lowest approval rating of any governor in the nation for her handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, with an approval rating of 28% in July[71] and 26% in September.[72] 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[69] and third-lowest per capita vaccination rate.[73]

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."[74] In October 2020, she appeared at an indoor fundraiser for the Republican Party and a large rally in a hangar for President Trump; attendees did not wear masks or socially distance at the events.[55]

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 her previous claim that face masks are ineffective. 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."[75]

In February 2021, Reynolds rolled back mask requirements in indoor public places and restrictions on indoor dining.[76] She did so without consulting with experts at the Iowa Department of Public Health.[77][78] The CDC had urged states not to loosen their COVID-19 public health measures.[77]

In March 2021, Reynolds voiced her opposition to the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, saying it would "provide bigger checks to states who chose aggressive shutdowns and mismanaged their state budgets." In September 2021, she touted $100 million in funding for Iowa's water infrastructure that was funded by the bill.[79]

In May 2021, Reynolds signed into law a bill that prohibited businesses and local governments from requiring customers to have proof of vaccination.[80] She also signed into law a bill that prohibited school districts from requiring masks.[80]

Personal life[edit]

Reynolds married Kevin Reynolds in 1982. They have three daughters.[81] Reynolds attends the Lutheran Church of Hope.[82][83]

Reynolds was twice charged with driving under the influence of alcohol, in 1999 and in August 2000.[84][25] In 2000, she was initially charged with Second Offense DUI, but pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor.[25] In 2017, Reynolds said she had sought inpatient treatment for alcoholism after her second arrest and had been sober for nearly 17 years.[25][85]

Electoral history[edit]

Iowa Senate history[edit]

2008 primary[edit]

Iowa State Senate District 48 Republican primary election, 2008
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Republican Kim Reynolds 2,487 61.77
Republican Jim Parker 1,539 38.23

2008 general election[edit]

Iowa State Senate District 48 general election, 2008
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Republican Kim Reynolds 14,274 52.97
Democratic Ruth Smith 11,653 43.24
Independent Rodney Schmidt 1,021 3.79

Gubernatorial elections[edit]


2010 Iowa gubernatorial election[10]
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
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[86] Jonathan Narcisse / Richard Marlar 20,859 1.9% n/a
Libertarian Eric Cooper / Nick Weltha 14,398 1.3% +0.7
Independent[87] Gregory Hughes / Robin Prior-Calef 3,884 0.4% n/a
Socialist Workers David Rosenfeld / Helen Meyers[88] 2,757 0.3% +.05
Write-in n/a 2,823 0.3% n/a
Majority 108,238
Turnout 1,133,430
Republican gain from Democratic Swing


2014 Iowa gubernatorial election[89]
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
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%
n/a Write-ins 1,095 0.09% -0.16%
Total votes 1,129,057 100.0% N/A
Republican hold


In June 2017, Reynolds stated that she would seek a full term as Governor of Iowa in the 2018 election.[90]

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.[91] 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."[92] Reynolds had previously praised King, saying he was "a strong defender of freedom and our conservative values".[93] After Election Day, Reynolds criticized King and said that he needed to change his approach.[94]

Reynolds won the Republican nomination for Governor and defeated Democrat Fred Hubbell and Libertarian Jake Porter in the general election on November 6, 2018.[95] Reynolds made history as the first woman elected Governor of Iowa.[96] While polls showed that she was trailing Hubbell,[97] she defeated him, 50.3%–47.5%. She won primarily by sweeping nearly the entire state west of Des Moines.[98] In particular, she dominated the state's 4th congressional district, which she carried with almost 61 percent of the vote.[99]

Iowa gubernatorial election, 2018[100]
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Republican Kim Reynolds (incumbent) 667,275 50.26% -8.73%
Democratic Fred Hubbell 630,986 47.53% +10.26%
Libertarian Jake Porter 21,426 1.61% -0.19%
Independent Gary Siegwarth 7,463 0.56% N/A
Write-in 488 0.04% N/A
Total votes 1,327,638 100.00% N/A
Republican hold


2022 Iowa gubernatorial election[101]
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
709,198 58.04% +7.78%
  • Deidre DeJear
  • Eric Van Lacker
482,950 39.53% -8.00%
  • Rick Stewart
  • Marco Battaglia
28,998 2.37% +0.84%
Write-in 718 0.06% +0.02%
Total votes 1,220,864 100.00
Turnout 1,230,416 55.06%
Registered electors 2,234,666
Republican hold

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Served as Acting Lieutenant Governor, from May 25, 2017 to January 18, 2019
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  3. ^ Noble, Jason (January 12, 2017). "How Kim Reynolds ascended to Iowa's governorship". Des Moines Register. Retrieved April 25, 2019.
  4. ^ "Kim Reynolds high school graduate looking for work - Daily Times Herald". Archived from the original on September 29, 2018. Retrieved June 29, 2017.
  5. ^ "Lt. Governor by day, student by night". December 25, 2012.
  6. ^ Longman, Molly (December 17, 2016). "Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds graduates from Iowa State". Des Moines Register. Retrieved March 31, 2018.
  7. ^ writer, Robynn Tysver / World-Herald staff (January 16, 2017). "Kim Reynolds' path to the Iowa Governor's Office was anything but typical".
  8. ^ "State of Iowa Official Canvass Summary: November 4, 2008 General Election" (PDF). Office of Iowa Secretary of State.
  9. ^ Josh Nelson (August 7, 2018). "Lt. governor candidate Kim Reynolds endorses gay marriage ban in Waterloo speech". Waterloo Cedar Falls Courier.
  10. ^ a b "Official results: 2010 General Election held Tuesday, November 2nd 2010" (PDF). Iowa Secretary of State's Office.
  11. ^ Rod Boshart (November 3, 2010). "Terry Branstad 'ready to lead the charge' as Iowa's governor". Waterloo Cedar Falls Courier.
  12. ^ Wilson, Kyle (November 15, 2010). "Reynolds resigns, Culver to set special election". Creston News Advertiser. Shaw Media. Archived from the original on July 8, 2011. Retrieved November 16, 2010.
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  16. ^ Rodriguez, Barbara; Beaumont, Thomas (May 24, 2017). "Kim Reynolds sworn in as Iowa's 1st female governor". Seattle Times. Retrieved August 23, 2018.
  17. ^ "Sources Confirm Adam Gregg Set to Become Governor Reynolds' New Lt. Governor". May 25, 2017. Retrieved May 25, 2017.
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  20. ^ a b c Gruber-Miller, Stephen (January 14, 2020). "Kim Reynolds proposes 1-cent sales tax increase to fund water quality, mental health, income tax cuts". Des Moines Register.
  21. ^ Boshart, Rod (December 11, 2020). "Iowa lawmakers mostly oppose Gov. Reynolds' plan to raise sales tax". The Gazette.
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  32. ^ "The nation's strictest abortion ban is now law. Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds signs 'fetal heartbeat' bill". Des Moines Register. May 4, 2018. Retrieved November 3, 2018.
  33. ^ a b Pitt, David (February 18, 2019). "Iowa governor opts not to appeal fetal heartbeat law ruling". Associated Press.
  34. ^ Levenson, Eric; Baldacci, Marlena (January 23, 2019). "Iowa's 'fetal heartbeat' abortion restriction declared unconstitutional". CNN.
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  36. ^ Gruber-Miller, Stephen; Breaux, Aimee (March 27, 2019). "Kim Reynolds signs bill requiring Iowa universities to respect 'free speech' on campus". The Des Moines Register. Retrieved March 28, 2019.
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  41. ^ Lundgren, Harper (July 7, 2020). "Iowa Gov. Reynolds signs bill to raise tobacco usage age". WOWT.
  42. ^ "Iowa no longer lone state with lifetime ban barring felons from voting". WOI-DT. August 5, 2020.
  43. ^ Stracqualursi, Veronica (August 5, 2020). "Iowa governor signs executive order restoring some ex-felons' voting rights". CNN.
  44. ^ a b Ryan J. Foley, Iowa governor auctioned off access for pork barons' charity, Associated Press, (February 8, 2021).
  45. ^ a b David Pitt & Ryan J. Foley, Iowa arranged COVID-19 tests at office of governor's donors, Associated Press, (January 27, 2021).
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  47. ^ a b c Paul LeBlanc (March 8, 2021). "Iowa governor signs controversial law shortening early and Election Day voting". CNN. Retrieved March 9, 2021.
  48. ^ Gruber-Miller, Stephen (April 2, 2021). "Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds signs law allowing permitless handgun carry, purchase". The Des Moines Register. Retrieved April 4, 2021.
  49. ^ Schnell, Mychael (April 2, 2021). "Iowa governor signs bill allowing permitless purchase, carry of handguns". The Hill. Retrieved April 4, 2021.
  50. ^ Lynch, James Q. (April 2, 2021). "Iowa governor signs 'constitutional carry' into law". Sioux City Journal. Retrieved April 4, 2021.
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  52. ^ Castronuovo, Celine (May 1, 2021). "Iowa governor signs law allowing landlords to refuse Section 8 vouchers". TheHill. Retrieved May 3, 2021.
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  54. ^ Petersen, Abbie (March 3, 2022). "Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds signs transgender sports bill into law". KETV. Retrieved March 5, 2022.
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External links[edit]

Iowa Senate
Preceded by Member of the Iowa Senate
from the 48th district

Succeeded by
Party political offices
Preceded by Republican nominee for Lieutenant Governor of Iowa
2010, 2014
Succeeded by
Preceded by Republican nominee for Governor of Iowa
2018, 2022
Preceded by Response to the State of the Union address
Succeeded by
Preceded by Chair of the Republican Governors Association
Political offices
Preceded by Lieutenant Governor of Iowa
Succeeded by
Preceded by Governor of Iowa
U.S. order of precedence (ceremonial)
Preceded byas Vice President Order of precedence of the United States
Within Iowa
Succeeded by
Mayor of city
in which event is held
Succeeded by
Preceded byas Governor of Texas Order of precedence of the United States
Outside Iowa
Succeeded byas Governor of Wisconsin