Sources tell TheIowaRepublican.com that Branstad will announce that he has selected Kim Reynolds to be his running mate. Reynolds was elected to the State Senate in 2008 after serving for 13 years as Clarke County Treasurer. She has also been a co-chair of the Iowa State County Treasurers’ Association, and Branstad previously appointed her to the IPERS board in 1996.
Reynolds has proven to be a good campaigner, holding public office for 15 years and getting elected to the State Senate in a year that overwhelmingly favored Democrats. Reynolds has managed to maintain her successful political career despite some substantial personal liabilities. Reynolds has two convictions for operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated, the most recent occurring in 2000.
Reynolds is relatively unknown, which will create an opportunity for the Branstad campaign to mold her image across the state. She carries herself in a very professional and impressive manner, which will likely excite potential supporters. However, while she doesn’t have a record that appears hostile to socially conservative issues, she will likely do very little to appeal to values voters who supported Rod Roberts and Bob Vander Plaats in this post-primary season.
Reynolds was in the State Senate when the Varnum v. Brien Iowa Supreme Court ruling on gay marriage came down and failed to take any sort of leadership role in opposing the Court’s ruling. She has also been the target of criticism for her failure to protect the rights of private property owners as related to an eminent domain action in her own Senate District in which developers sought to obtain lands that would not only become a water reservoir, but also a recreational waterfront area.
There is no doubt that Reynolds can perform the duties of lieutenant governor, but her selection signals that Branstad and his advisors were looking for a moldable personality that would not steal any spotlight from Branstad himself. This selection can also be seen as a political pick made to appeal to females in the general election, and her selection does not give Republicans a strong heir apparent to the governorship in the future when Branstad retires.
If Branstad had selected a stronger, more accomplished running mate such as Jeff Lamberti to be his Lieutenant Governor, Lamberti would have been the obvious choice to succeed Branstad, and any other potential candidates would have awaited his decision before entering the race. With someone like Reynolds in the lieutenant governor spot who might be perceived as being more vulnerable, the candidate field is likely to be crowded once Branstad announces his retirement.
When asked for comment on this story, a Branstad representative didn’t deny that Reynolds was the pick, but stated, “I would be extremely careful [in] jumping to conclusions.”
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