Analyzing the gubernatorial candidates

CALEB STEKL, Staff Writer

In the midst of a heated midterm season, Iowa’s gubernatorial race is proving to be no less competitive. The Nov. 6 election will feature incumbent governor Kim Reynolds (R) and Fred Hubbell (D).

Reynolds, 59, is a St. Charles, IA native and fifth-generation Iowan. The lifelong-Republican hopes to retain the governor’s seat she inherited in 2017 from then Governor Terry Branstad, who is currently serving as ambassador to China with the Trump administration. Her political career includes serving as an Iowa state senator and then as Lieutenant Governor. She is the mother of three daughters and wife to Kevin Reynolds.

Hubbell, 67, is a fifth-generation Iowan from Des Moines. Hubbell has been a businessman for nearly 40 years. His private-sector career includes being chairman of Younkers starting in 1985, the chair of Mid-Iowa Planned Parenthood organization in 1984 and CEO of Equatable of Iowa in 1989. The Democratic candidate has also been on the board of Mercy Medical Center. He is husband to Charlotte Beyer and the father to three children.


Hubbell has been a supporter of public healthcare, writing, “We need to reverse Medicaid privatization NOW,” on a statement posted on his campaign website.

Reynolds supports the privatization of Medicaid, and will continue to implement the policy if elected.


Hubbell has called for an “energy ethic.” A supporter of increased production of both wind and solar energy, Hubbell wants more involvement from the private sector to allow for manageable growth. In response to the increasing tensions between farmers and state regulatory agencies this past summer, Hubbell also supports water and air policy focused on the needs of farmers and local citizens.

Reynolds supports less federal and state oversight and instead, saying regulations should be decided at the local level. Reynolds has not proposed specific policies addressing the environment and climate change.


Hubbell supports an increase in education funding at both the secondary and post-secondary levels. 

“Full and consistent funding” is required for secondary schools to remain effective, Hubbell said on his website. Hubbell also called for “a stronger focus on job training and apprenticeship programs.”

“Education is a priority, and we will continue to back that up with real money,” Reynolds recently said during the State of the State address. A strong supporter of school choice (voucher programs), Reynolds argued school choice “offers families the option to teach their values, beliefs and viewpoints to their children.”


Hubbell’s record on abortion is typified by his position as chair of Mid-Iowa Planned Parenthood.

“I am an unabashed supporter of Roe v. Wade and I have been for a long time,” Hubbell said during a recent gubernatorial debate.

Reynolds recently signed into law the sternest restrictive abortion bill in Iowa’s history. The Fetal Heartbeat Bill banned most abortions after six weeks of fetal development.

“I said I would never stop fighting on behalf of the unborn,” Reynolds said during a recent debate. “And I believe that if death is determined by a heart that stops beating, then a beating heart indicates life.”


Currently, the state limits the use of medical marijuana to a small number of serious illnesses. 

Both candidates responded negatively to the question of supporting recreational marijuana, according to the Des Moines Register. 

Hubbell supports the expansion of medical marijuana in the state. “We need to do everything we can to give Iowans access to quality, affordable health care,” he said. Hubbell also supports expanding the range of illnesses that are eligible to utilize marijuana as a prescription medication, according to his website. 

“I would support the process that’s already in place,” Reynolds has said. The process Reynolds refers to is the Medical Marijuana Congressional Board that is charged with exploring options related to cannabidiol, as well as the percentage of THC that is permitted in medical marijuana.

Polling numbers 

Polling  numbers have indicated a close race. According to FiveThirtyEight, the most recent poll, completed by Selzer and Company, Hubbell has a narrow two-point lead.

 In January of 2018, Reynolds held a five-point lead, and in early September, Hubbell had a five-point margin, according to data collected by FiveThirtyEight.

These poll numbers may again fluctuate as the election nears. 

Prominent Democratic Senator Kamala Harris was recently on campus and a slew of prominent political figures are expected to make appearances in the state including president Trump and former president Obama. These visits may affect both Reynolds’ and Hubbell’s poll numbers. 


Hubbell’s endorsements include The Des Moines Register,  current Governor of Washington state Jay Inslee and current Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller. 

Governor Reynolds earned the endorsement of over 40 Iowa county sheriffs, the National Rifle Association (NRA), and the NFIB small-business Pac. 

“I think it’s the case that Kim Reynolds should not be in office,” Carter Williams, a junior philosophy major said. “The only way to get her out is to vote for a Democrat. I’m pro-choice, and that’s perhaps the biggest thing I’ve noticed that she is against.”

Ben Chapman, junior social sciences major, stressed the importance of voting in midterm elections. “Voting is a right everyone has that people have fought and died for,” Chapman said. “If you don’t vote, you don’t really get to have a say on who’s in office.”  

The midterm elections are on Nov. 6. More information about Reynolds and Hubbell can be found on the websites of Ballotopedia, The Des Moines Register and BallotReady. 

Students curious about where they can vote on election day can find their polling location on the Iowa Secretary of State’s website. 

Polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. on election day.