Gubernatorial candidate Rep. Ras Smith to run ‘unifying’ campaign for Iowa

Smith, the first individual to announce their candidacy, says he plans for a “person-focused” leadership if elected governor.


Iowa State House Rep. Ras Smith, D-Waterloo, is running for Iowa governor in 2022.

Meg Doster, News Reporter

Rep. Ras Smith, D-Waterloo, became the first person to announce their candidacy for governor for the 2022 election on Tuesday, ahead of incumbent Gov. Kim Reynolds, who has not yet indicated if she will run for reelection.

Smith was elected to serve the 62nd district in the Iowa House in 2017 and is currently in his second term. He said he’s taken a “person-focused” approach to his leadership in his district, and he plans to lead Iowa the same way if he is elected governor.

The election is not about a competition between him and Reynolds, Smith said, but about what type of leadership is better for Iowans.

“Right now, we have a leadership that’s saying that the decisions about your body aren’t your decisions,” Smith said. “They’re saying that if you’re an immigrant or a refugee, you’re someone else’s problem. That’s not the Iowa that I know.”

Smith’s campaign ad, “The Shoes We Wear”, and a press release from Tuesday stated that Smith is running a campaign focused on building and fostering communities.

Previously, Smith was a consultant for community engagement for Communities in Schools of America, a non-profit organization that focuses on eliminating barriers in school for children regardless of race, gender, or ability.

“We have to create communities where people want to stay here, communities where people want to come here, communities where people feel valued,” Smith said.

Soon after Smith’s campaign announcement, Jeff Kaufmann, chairperson of the Iowa Republican Party, released a statement on Tuesday endorsing Reynolds’ reelection.

“Right now, under Governor Reynolds’ leadership, Iowa has the nation’s fastest recovering economy, our children are back in school, and we are coming back even stronger than before,” Kaufmann wrote. “Governor Reynolds has fought to Keep Iowa Moving every day since the pandemic hit, and she has proven to be the fighter Iowa needed in a time of crisis.”

RELATED: Rep. Ras Smith announces bid for governor

Reynolds has held office since 2017 and is the first woman to be elected governor in Iowa.

Andrea Geary, owner of MilkBox Bakery in Cedar Falls, said she worked with Smith at a food drive last winter. Geary said she was moved by Smith’s words and plans to vote for him in the 2022 election.

On Monday night, Smith led an event in Waterloo, which Geary said she attended to “witness a big moment for the state of Iowa.”

“I think for Cedar Valley, it was a big night to have one of our local leaders really growing from the ground up now to be in a position where he has the chance at leading the state,” Geary said. “He could potentially be the first Black governor for the state of Iowa.”

Geary said having a small business in Iowa is a challenge, and the current leadership under Reynolds has not helped.

She added that out-of-state corporations have driven Iowa’s economic policy to the detriment of Iowa businesses.

“I think that Ras has demonstrated that he is very much of the people,” she said.

Smith said his goals when he ran for his representative seat in 2017 were to empower Iowans. His goals have not changed between then and now.

Smith said that during his time in the legislature he has been successful with his goals and has no intention of giving up on them.

“As Iowans, we do have a heritage and a history that we can be proud of, but I also believe that we can accomplish so much more together,” Smith said.