Democrat Rep. Ras Smith announces run for Iowa governor

By: - June 15, 2021 2:18 pm

Rep. Ras Smith, D-Waterloo. (Photo courtesy of the Iowa Legislature)

State Rep. Ras Smith, D-Waterloo, announced Tuesday he will run for governor in 2022, making him the first major Democrat to enter the race.

Smith released a video early Tuesday to launch his campaign. The video focuses on unity among Iowans, regardless of profession, background or political affiliation.

“At the end of the day, we’re all on this journey together,” Smith says in the video’s voiceover.

“I have faith that when we work together, when we use new eyes to look at new problems, we can build a state where everyone can succeed,” Smith said.

Smith, 33, was first elected to the Iowa House of Representatives in 2016. He gained prominence in the summer of 2020 when he spearheaded efforts to draft and pass a policing bill, known among lawmakers as the “More Perfect Union” Act. The law requires police to undergo implicit bias and de-escalation training, provides additional safeguards against officers who have committed serious misconduct, and bans the use of chokeholds in most situations.

Several Des Moines activists lauded Smith’s decision to enter the race. Black Liberation Movement organizer Jaylen Cavil tweeted that Smith had been supportive of the movement “since day one.”

Rep. Jennifer Konfrst, the newly elected House minority leader, also congratulated Smith on his run Tuesday morning.

“It’s a big step, and I think it’s really important that we’re out here early holding Gov. Reynolds accountable,” the Windsor Heights Democrat said.

Smith lives in Waterloo with his wife and two daughters. He attended the University of Northern Iowa, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in exercise science and a master’s in leisure, youth and human services.

Tracking 2022

  • Gov. Kim Reynolds has not yet announced her run for re-election. In early June, she told the Des Moines Register that she would not be seeking a Senate seat and that she sees a lot of work left to do in Iowa.
  • State Auditor Rob Sand, a Democrat, said Monday that he is praying for guidance as he decides whether to run for governor in 2022. He has been a vocal critic of Reynolds, most recently publishing a report on a COVID-19 PSA that Sand alleges was illegal self-promotion.
  • State Sen. Rob Hogg announced Monday that he will not seek re-election to represent Cedar Rapids in the Iowa Senate. Hogg has served as a Democratic state senator for over a decade. He ran unsuccessfully for the U.S. Senate in 2016. He has not announced plans to seek higher office after his current term ends.
  • Sen. Liz Mathis, D-Hiawatha, told several news outlets Monday that she was “seriously considering” a run for Congress in Iowa’s 1st District. Rep. Ashley Hinson, a Republican, won the seat in 2020.

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Katie Akin
Katie Akin

Katie Akin is a former Iowa Capital Dispatch reporter. Katie began her career as an intern at PolitiFact, debunking viral fake news and fact-checking state and national politicians. She moved to Iowa in 2019 for a politics internship at the Des Moines Register, where she assisted with Iowa Caucus coverage, multimedia projects and the Register’s Iowa Poll. She became the Register’s retail reporter in early 2020, chronicling the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on Central Iowa’s restaurants and retailers.