Gov. Kim Reynolds calls for Democrats to reconsider new presidential calendar

By: - January 13, 2023 1:29 pm

Gov. Kim Reynolds was sworn in to her second full term as Iowa governor at the Community Choice Convention Center in Des Moines on Friday, Jan. 13. (Photo by Robin Opsahl/Iowa Capital Dispatch)

Gov. Kim Reynolds, in her inauguration speech Friday, asked Democrats to “reconsider” their choice to push the Iowa caucuses from the first-in-the-nation spot.

“As a Republican, it benefits my party for Democrats to turn away from Iowa,” Reynolds said. “As an American, it pains me to see.”

Reynolds was sworn in for her second full term as governor at the Community Choice Convention Center in Des Moines, joined by Lt. Gov. Adam Gregg and Republican legislative leaders.

The governor looked ahead in her speech – specifically, to Iowa’s role in the 2024 presidential election. Republican presidential hopefuls have already spent the past several months making trips to Iowa as they consider announcing a bid in the upcoming election cycle.

“To my fellow Republicans: Welcome back!” Reynolds said. “Iowans look forward to hosting you over the next year; to having you in their living rooms and to having real conversations. We take this opportunity — and we know it is an opportunity — very seriously. We hope you do too.”

While the Republican presidential nomination cycle will proceed as normal, Iowa may not play as large of a role in the Democrats’ process.

The Democratic National Committee is in the process of revising the nominating calendar. In December, the DNC Rules and Bylaws Committee granted conditional waivers to South Carolina, Nevada, New Hampshire, Georgia and Michigan for holding their primaries early. The plan drops Iowa from its traditional status as the first caucus in the nation.

Iowa Democrats have protested the decision, and said they will hold their caucus first, following state law, regardless of the DNC calendar. Iowa Democratic Chair Ross Wilburn asked again for national Democrats to reconsider after Georgia and New Hampshire missed a key deadline, but the national committee chairs said they remain committed to the proposed calendar.

Reynolds joined Iowa Democrats’ calls in her inaugural speech.

“To the national Democrats, to President Biden, I say this: Reconsider,” she said. “Come back to Iowa, and you won’t regret it.”

While she called for Democrats to return to Iowa, she also said Iowa’s recovery during the COVID-19 pandemic was because of her administration’s and state legislators’ “courage and sense to swim against the current” on school and business policies. She said she was proud of what Iowa Republicans have accomplished, making Iowa “a place where children and parents come before special interests, where life is protected, and work is rewarded.”

In this year’s Condition of the State address, Reynolds said she plans to focus on “parental rights” with her private school scholarship legislation. She also proposed to support abortion alternatives through $1.5 million additional funding to a program that aids nonprofit organizations that offer maternal health care and counseling for people facing an unexpected pregnancy. She said these actions show why Iowa should continue to play an important role on the national stage.

“So, as the world descends upon Iowa over this next year, let’s show them who we are; let’s show them why we’re first,” Reynolds said. “Because what America wants right now, what it needs more than anything else, is exactly what we’ve always valued. Real people, connected  and safe communities, and the freedom to flourish.”

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Robin Opsahl
Robin Opsahl

Robin Opsahl is an Iowa Capital Dispatch reporter covering the state Legislature and politics. They have experience covering government, elections and more at media organizations including Roll Call, the Sacramento Bee and the Wausau Daily Herald.