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The Republican Governor Who Quietly Keeps Getting It Right

AMAC Exclusive – By Eleanor Vaughn


Every four years, the country’s attention turns to the Iowa caucuses, the first of the presidential contests. Then, when the caucuses are over, the candidates (and the attention of the political media) leave Iowa until the next election. But for the more than three million people who live in Iowa, the state doesn’t simply disappear. And now, under the leadership of Republican Governor Kim Reynolds, the country – and Republican politicians in particular – may do well to pay a little more attention to the Hawkeye State outside of campaign season.

Reynolds was first elected in 2018 after serving two terms as lieutenant governor and serving as governor for a year after her predecessor, Terry Branstad, was confirmed as President Trump’s Ambassador to China. A native Iowan, Reynolds has served her state as a county treasurer, a state senator, and now, as Governor – the first woman to hold the post in the state’s history. She has guided Iowa through the pandemic and every other crisis of the last four years, and, though her efforts have not been widely publicized, they have been commendable. Her recent Condition of the State Address provides a window into what Iowa—and Governor Reynolds—are doing right.

Reynolds particularly focused on education issues in the speech, which, as a contest for Virginia Governor showed last year, have captured voters’ attention. In light of the proliferation of Critical Race Theory and other left-wing ideologies in schools, Reynolds called for transparency from schools about what they are teaching and what materials students have access to. She specifically raised the issue of explicit books with “X-rated” content being allowed in elementary and middle-school libraries. She further said schools should address parents’ concerns, not ignore them (a seemingly simple enough request, although not one that many on the left agree with). “Enough is enough,” Reynolds pledged. “Parents matter, and we’re going to make sure you stay in charge of your child’s education.”

Reynolds also spoke directly to parents on the issue of school choice. While appreciative of the Iowa public school system, she recognizes that practically speaking, it doesn’t work for every child. So, she discussed a new initiative to increase school choice, promising legislation that would create “an individualized educational plan to receive a portion of the ‘per pupil’ funds allocated annually by the state to move their child to the education system of their choice.”

Reynolds’ policies are built on the principle that parents should be informed about what schools are teaching, and should be able to choose what school and learning environment is right for their child. At the same time, with more choices available to students, Reynolds argues that schools will have an incentive to improve to compete for students, which will ultimately raise the overall quality of the school system.

However, Reynolds does not plan to pit parents and teachers against each other. She also announced a plan to award a $1,000 bonus to teachers who have stayed in their jobs throughout the pandemic, despite the many difficulties. With so many teachers throughout the country resigning or fighting with their school districts, Reynolds’s plan to encourage and support Iowa’s teachers is an intriguing experiment, in a similar vein to Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin’s promise to raise teacher pay and then demand that schools perform better.

Reynolds also outlined an ambitious apprenticeship program for high schoolers interested in education or healthcare. This program would have high schoolers working with professionals in their field, getting paid, and jump-starting their careers before graduation. With college costs at an all-time high, apprenticeship programs like these could offer an attractive alternative for students who don’t want to take on the debt associated with four-year colleges.

The struggling economy is, of course, the most important issue for many Americans. Iowa is doing well on the jobs front, with 1.54 million workers employed as of November 2021, almost 80% of pre-pandemic numbers. Notably, Reynolds refused to lock down as strictly as many other states during the onset of the pandemic in 2020, and as a result, her state has been able to recover more quickly than most. Reynolds is encouraging this rebound, with a statewide grant program for childcare facilities, making it easier for parents to go back to work, as well as a proposal for a flat 4% income tax rate. After running a historic $1.2 billion surplus last year, Reynolds and Iowa Republicans believe the state is taking too much in taxes, and that a tax cut is in order– including a complete repeal of tax collected on retirement income.

Some of Reynolds’s other accomplishments of the last four years include the “Back the Blue” bill, a law designed to punish rioters more strictly, a repeal of the death tax, an expansion of telehealth services, and a program to expand broadband access, especially to rural areas. Her actions appear to have been rooted consistently in common sense and conservative principles. She has not been deaf to public criticism, but she has not been intimidated by mobs.

With all of these achievements aimed at creating a place for working families to thrive, it’s no surprise that U.S. News and World Report ranked Iowa the number one state for an opportunity in 2021. Iowans seem to agree, as well. Reynolds’s overall approval rating is 51%, with 56% approving of her handling of the economy. The approval for both her educational policies and her COVID policies is 52%.

In a state that went 52% for Barack Obama in 2012, such numbers are significant, and perhaps have something to do with Donald Trump’s landslide victory there in 2020. In Washington, politicians often pursue policies that must be everything to everyone and end up being nothing, which contributes to plummeting approval ratings for Congress. Meanwhile, Reynolds’s more grounded, practical approach has proven both popular and effective.

Governor Kim Reynolds is an excellent example of what can be done, rather than what politicians say they will do. During her four years as governor, she has been effective in leading her state through crises that the country and the world have been shaken by. As we enter the midterm season and creep ever closer to campaigns for 2024, candidates should remember the Reynolds record in Iowa as an excellent example of what it means, after the election is over, to be a proven conservative leader. And all of us—candidates and voters—should remember that elections aren’t the end, but the beginning—and that governing is even harder than winning.

Eleanor Vaughn is a writer living in Virginia.

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10 months ago

Sounds like someone who should consider a Presidential run

Sally Duncan
10 months ago

Commom sense should prevail in all situations, but not a lot if people have it. Good for this governor of Iowa! Those who are so interested in serving the rediculous could learn a lessen or two from her!

10 months ago

I’m glad that she favors school choice. That needs to be a litmus test for every single candidate.

10 months ago

I’m impressed! I know the line is long, but can we get her here in North Carolina? We really need a governor who cares about more than being a control freak.

10 months ago

HEY!!!! That’s my Governor!!! And you are absolutely correct!! She is the same league as Desantis!

Robert Zuccaro
10 months ago

I wish I lived in a “free state” instead of Northern Nevada which is rapidly becoming just another suburb of California!

10 months ago

You go Kim Reynolds, I say give Kamala Harris a janitor’s job in the capitol to clean up the mess her and Joe created and promote Kim to VP so we have a real VP! Kim Reynolds has more balls than any man in DC!

10 months ago

Can she please move to Ohio and replace Compromise Dewine?

10 months ago

Since true conservatism is firmly based in logic and critical thinking, this Governor is the epitome of why conservatism works.
Iowa is very fortunate to have such a clear thinker. Well done Governor Reynolds.

10 months ago

As a proud Iowan, I can confirm that she has done a great job. Not everyone agrees, of course, but that is normal. I am proud of how she has kept our economy going during the pandemic, as well as keeping schools and businesses open.

10 months ago

Great write-up! Kim Reynolds is a star and a great patriot.

Bill on the Hill
10 months ago

This was an excellent story on Governor Reynolds in Iowa as it brings to mind Kristi Noam of S. Dakota fame… Reynolds represents a solid conservative based way of managing her state in a thoughtful manner as America is surely in need many more leaders such as Governor Reynolds…
Bill… :~)

donald a colongeli
10 months ago


10 months ago

The USA needs a REPUBLICAN Governor in every state in the Union and then the problems this liberal regime has caused will go away along with the idiot Joe Biden who qualifies as the worst President in USA history/ congrats to Kim Reynolds and the job she is doing// The red states are doing well and the blue states are floundering and pathetic as well as the crime with no law & order

10 months ago

And she is easy on the eyes.

10 months ago

If people in Iowa don’t appreciate her I would gladly welcome her to move to California where I live and run to replace Governor Gavin “Gruesome” Newsom!

10 months ago
Reply to  Rik

Where unfortunately she wouldn’t get anything done due to a 99% radical Democratic majority. So crazy and sad to see what California has become. I simply do not understand why family members on my wife’s side insist on staying there. My wife got out of there 17 years ago and is damn glad she did.

10 months ago
Reply to  Steve

It’s because of 1 word . . . Weather!

JaneLee Keller
10 months ago
Reply to  Rik

Another word and a Much Better Alternative…… Florida ????.

10 months ago
Reply to  JaneLee Keller

If the Red States are ever forced to secede from the Union, then yes, I will certainly move there from California!

10 months ago

I hope they have made efforts to secure their elections. Any state that doesn’t is wrong. Doesn’t matter how ‘red’ the state is.

10 months ago

I know it’s a big step down, but San Antonio needs somebody like a Kim Reynolds as the mayor to improve the city over the Democrat mayor currently in place. She sounds like she has the sense and business knowledge that is so desperately needed. Foxtrot Juliet Bravo

10 months ago

I wish we had more governors like Kim Reynolds. We certainly need more good governors.
With the liberal cities falling apart and so much negativity, it is great to hear.

10 months ago

It is inspiring to find a good governor out there in this present day of liberal minded fools. GOD bless and keep up the good work!

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