In eastern Iowa, governor contenders make pitches and rally their troops

The candidates for Iowa governor crisscrossed the state in a late push for votes.


Nick Rohlman

LEFT: Gov. Kim Reynolds speaks during a rally at the Eastern Iowa Airport in Cedar Rapids on Nov. 5 as Lt. Gov. Adam Gregg and Rep. Rod Blum, R-Iowa look on. RIGHT: Democratic candidate for governor Fred Hubbell speaks to supporters at the home of Janice Weiner on Nov. 5.

Julia Shanahan and Sarah Watson

Polls will close at 9 p.m. today to end a competitive and expensive gubernatorial race. Both candidates have been barnstorming the state in the last weekend to reach last-minute voters and energize volunteers for Election Day get-out-the-vote efforts. In visits to eastern Iowa, the two kept largely to their core campaign messages.

Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds touted a growing Iowa economy and urged voters to stay in line with the “No. 1 state” in the nation in stops in Coralville on Sunday and Cedar Rapids on Monday.

“Do you want to continue to see your wages go up, do you want to see the economy keep growing, do you want to lead the nation, do you want to maintain Iowa’s No. 1 status in the country?” Reynolds said to reporters.

Nearly every Republican statewide elected official cheered alongside Reynolds at a Monday campaign stop at the Eastern Iowa Airport. It was one of nine stops she made that day while traveling on a chartered plane.

Democratic challenger and retired businessman Fred Hubbell iterated the ways in which he hopes to change Iowa. First in a rally Sunday in Iowa City and then in a smaller gathering in Johnson County, he promised to reverse privatized state Medicaid, improve education-funding, address mental-health services, and fund efforts to address air and water quality.

Throughout Hubbell’s visit to Iowa City on Monday, he thanked his longtime supporters, including Sen. Mary Mascher, D-Iowa City. He interacted with volunteers ahead of the most crucial day of his campaign.

RELATED: Reynolds: ‘this is the most important election ever’

“We’re going to allocate money out of wasteful corporate tax giveaways,” he said. “… We’re going to put it into education, and we’re going to put it into things like mental health. We’re going to restore funding to Planned Parenthood again.”

Candidates will have to wait until 9 p.m., to see which candidate’s message resonated most with voters. One clue into election turnout may be early votes. This year, early voters are turning out in higher numbers than 2014.

In Iowa, more than 20 percent of registered voters have cast their ballots, according to totals released by the secretary of state. Those early vote totals favor Democrats when comparing to the 2014 midterm elections. The number of Republican-cast absentee ballots remained about the same between the two election years, while Democrats have topped their 2014 totals by around 31,000 ballots this year.

Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, said Monday that while Republicans weren’t showing gains in early voting, he was confident Republicans would turn out on Election Day.

RELATED: Hubbell stresses change ahead of Election Day 

“I think Iowans really honor voting on Election Day and not voting early,” Grassley said. “I happened to have cast an absentee ballot, but most Republicans want to vote the old-fashioned way.”

Grassley, who presided over now-Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearings, said he thought the justice’s confirmation would boost Republican support.

He told the crowd to “never change horses in the middle of the stream” at the Cedar Rapids rally, emphasizing a need to continue Iowa’s economic policies under a Reynolds administration.

Hubbell told reporters he was optimistic about the race, emphasizing that he had traveled all across the state to garner votes. In Johnson County, where Democratic voters outnumber Republicans 2 to 1, he said his team was trying to gain as many votes as possible.

“It’s a statewide election, not a local election,” Hubbell said. “We’re trying to get as many voters all across the state as we can. We may win Johnson County, but we want to get as many people in Johnson County voting for us as possible.”

Polls are open from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. today. For full list of polling locations, search for an address on the secretary of state’s website or the Johnson County auditor’s website.

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