Where Iowa gubernatorial candidates stand on education, health care, and more

Two candidates face off in the most expensive race for the governor’s mansion in Iowa’s history.


Democrat Fred Hubbell (left) and current Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds are running for Iowa governor.

Kim Reynolds (R) – Incumbent

Age: 59  

Hometown: Osceola, Iowa 

Education: Iowa State University, B.L.S.


Reynolds emphasizes an energetic personality and cites a growing Iowa economy in a race in which she hopes to be elected to her first full term as governor. Reynolds assumed office in 2017 after her predecessor, former-Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad, resigned to become the U.S. ambassador to China. In a campaign to become the first elected female governor in Iowa, the 59-year-old often repeats her mantra that her story “is the Iowa story” of overcoming challenges and working hard.

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Economy: Reynolds highlights a state budget surplus of $127 million and Iowa’s second-in-the-nation status for low unemployment.  Over her year as acting governor, Reynolds has championed lowering taxes.

Education: Reynolds prioritizes K-12 funding. She supported 1 percent increase to public schools’ budget this past year. She also championed a unanimously supported initiative, Future Ready Iowa. The legislation sets a goal for 70 percent of Iowans to have some kind of secondary education or training by 2025. She, along with other Republicans, is criticized by opponents for $11.5 million in cuts made in 2018 to community colleges and the state Board of Regents, which governs the three public universities in Iowa.

Environment/Agriculture: The first bill Reynolds signed into law was a water-quality bill. She has said she supports building on the $282 million it put in place to support conservation infrastructure. She also instituted an Empower Rural Iowa initiative which aims to provide broadband access across Iowa and revitalize downtowns. She cheered President Donald Trump when he announced E 15 ethanol would be available year-round.

Health Care: Although criticized by her opponent, Reynolds supports her predecessor’s decision to bring the state-managed insurance program for low-income Iowans, Medicaid, under the control of private managed-care organizations. She also supported mental-health legislation to establish crisis centers and residential-treatment programs across the state.

RELATED: Dueling views on Medicaid shape race for Iowa governor

Fred Hubbell (D)

Age: 67  

Hometown: Des Moines 

Education: University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, B.A., University of Iowa, J.D.


As a first-time political candidate, Hubbell challenges Reynolds on issues such as Medicaid and the state budget. A scion of a well-known Des Moines family, Hubbell highlights his experience managing businesses and leading public entities as a signal he can balance the state’s budget while returning funding to social-service programs. Hubbell cites an incident that occurred more than 30 years ago as a turning point in his life. In 1981, Hubbell and his wife were held hostage on a plane for several days. He resolved that if he made it out alive he would dedicate his life to helping others. Thirty years later, he decided to run for governor. Hubbell, who has largely financed his campaign through his personal wealth, released a three-page summary of his tax returns in late August. He allowed reporters a three-hour window to view the documents. The move was criticized by Reynolds, who released 10 years’ worth of income taxes online.

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Economy: Hubbell supports eliminating “wasteful” tax incentives to corporations in favor of investing dollars into education and health care. 

EducationHubbell wants to invest in higher education and criticizes his opponent for what he calls a mismanagement of the budget to force cuts to regent universities. 

Environment/Agriculture: Hubbell supports continuing the Renewable Fuel Standard. He also supports expansion of incentives to start small organic farms to encourage a younger generation to begin farming. 

Health Care: Hubbell has focused a significant portion of his campaign on what he sees as injustices resulting from the decision to delegate Medicaid patient insurance decisions to private companies. He doesn’t support going back to the “old system,” but he does want to renegotiate contracts with the two managed-care organizations. His goal is to bring more decision-making abilities under state government control and institute new leadership for Iowa’s Department of Human Services. 

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