Kim Reynolds is set to give the Republican response to President Joe Biden’s State of The Union speech. Described as a polarizing figure, she has become a prominent member in the Republican party while earning backlash from others due to her inaction during the coronavirus pandemic. “Tonight, I have the opportunity to share Iowa’s success story with the nation. Tune in as I deliver the Official GOP Response to Biden’s #SOTU this evening!” she tweeted.
Based on her party’s outlook and past statements, she likely won’t have much positive to say about the President. Ahead of the speech, she touted her accomplishments including “banned mask mandates,” “supporting law enforcement” and “kids in the classroom, adding, “I’d put my record up against Biden and the Democrats in DC every single day.” Here’s everything you need to know about the Republican poised to take aim at Biden.
1. Reynolds is the governor of Iowa
Kim Reynolds is the 43rd governor of Iowa and the first-ever woman to hold the position. She took the place of Governor Terry Branstad stepped down in 2017 to become the US Ambassador to China and was officially elected into the position in 2018, beating out Democratic businessman Fred Hubbell, Libertarian Jake Porter, and independent candidate Gary Siegwarth. Before holding the position of governor, she
served four terms as Clarke County Treasurer. She then became a Senator in 2008 and served as Lieutenant Governor for two terms.
2. Reynolds has been adamantly against COVID regulations
Reynolds took a clear stance against COVID regulations including mask requirements, vaccine mandates and remote learning. “No, I’m not going to mandate masks. I trust Iowans. I believe in Iowans,” Reynolds told WHO radio (via NPR) back in October 2020. when Iowa was experiencing its third surge of COVID cases. “There’s no way to enforce it. Most of the states or entities that have done that, they’ve actually gone as far as to say we’re not going to enforce it, so it’s just kind of a feel-good.”
Despite the backlash and fact that Iowa had highest death tolls of 1,200 at the time, she doubled down on her beliefs. “We can get there without a mask mandate. I believe that and that’s what I’m going to consistently do,” she said at the time via The Gazette. However, weeks later in November 2020, she folded. “No one wants to do this. I don’t want to do this,” Reynolds, a Republican, said at a news conference Monday where she announced a new health proclamation enforcing mask usage. “If Iowans don’t buy into this, we’ll lose,” she continued. “Businesses will close once again, more schools will be forced to go online, and our health care system will fail.” By February 2021, she lifted all COVID regulations on Iowan businesses.
Now, just ahead of her response at the State of The Union, a state auditor has issued that she return nearly $450,000 in federal coronavirus relief funds that were used to pay for 21 governor’s office staff members for three months back in October 2020 which were deemed “improperly used.”
3. Reynolds just passed a flat tax bill
On the same day as her response to President Biden’s State of The Union address, Reynolds passed a $2 billion flat tax law for the state of Iowa. The bill states that Iowa’s state tax will lower gradually until it reaches 3.9% statewide. The plan is said to eliminate taxes on retirement and lower taxes on corporations by an estimated amount of $2 billion. This was one of Reynold’s top items on her agenda as state governor and is a plan that Republicans have been championing.
4. Reynolds is a ‘polarizing’ figure in Iowa
Ahead of Reynolds’ response at the State of the Union, chief political reporter at The Des Moines Register, Brianne Pfannenstiel stated the governor “is deeply polarizing in Iowa,” when speaking to CNN. Some of Iowa’s best-known politicians — Democratic US Sen. Tom Harkin, Republican US Sen. Chuck Grassley and Republican Gov. Terry Branstad — were known for drawing support from the opposing party. That’s not true for Reynolds,” she told the outlet. “She’s very popular among Iowa Republicans, with an 88% approval rating…So that tells you something about how she’s been able to appeal to the party’s solidly red, solidly Trump base. But just 10% of Democrats approve of the job she’s doing.”
5. Reynolds values family
Reynolds is an Iowan through and through. She claims to be “proud of her Iowa roots” and a “small-town, rural Iowa girl at heart.” Not only was she born there but all of her family was too and still resides there. She raised her three children there along with her husband Kevin Reynolds. Her daughters then gave her 11 grandchildren who are all raised in Iowa as well.