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Iowa Campaign Almanac
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Iowa Campaign Almanac

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A roundup of campaign news items of interest:

ONE OF THE BEST: Although Gov. Kim Reynolds hasn’t announced that she’s running for re-election, she landed an endorsement from a prominent Republican seen as a potential 2024 presidential candidate.

Former South Carolina governor and United Nations ambassador Nikki Haley has endorsed Reynolds for re-election, calling her “one of the best governors in the country.”

“Kim Reynolds is a solid leader who fights for the people of Iowa,” Haley said in a statement from her Stand for America PAC. “In her time as governor, she cut taxes, took on the federal government while fighting for small business, and improved access to child care for working parents.”

Haley will be in Iowa on June 24 to headline the Republican Party of Iowa’s Lincoln Day Dinner.

Stand for America PAC supports “principled conservatives who stand up for the ideas our country was founded on.” It looks for candidates “who believe America is inherently good and who stand against socialism.”

REYNOLDS CALLS TRUMP GOP LEADER: Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds explained COVID-19 response measures she has made and agreed that former President Donald Trump is the leader of the Republican Party during an appearance on Sean Hannity’s Fox News show Thursday evening with five other GOP governors.

Reynolds detailed ways her administration dealt with COVID-19 outbreaks at meatpacking plants in Iowa, discussed her decision to return $95 million in federal money for surveillance testing in schools, touted recent legislation to cut Iowa taxes and “back the blue” with more public safety funding and criticized the Biden administration’s response in securing the U.S. southern border.

Much of the discussion during the hourlong forum at the Republican Governors Association meeting in Nashville, Tenn., focused on ways the governors have been handling the public health and economic challenges during the pandemic, governing as conservatives in the Biden era and pushing an agenda centered on defending liberties.

Along with Reynolds, other GOP governors who participated in the televised forum included Govs. Doug Ducey of Arizona, Ron DeSantis of Florida, Bill Lee of Tennessee, Kristi Noem of South Dakota and Chris Sununu of New Hampshire.

On Thursday, RGA officials announced that Ducey and Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts will serve together in 2022 as the association’s co-chairs and Reynolds — who is in cycle in 2022 and cannot serve as chair — will continue to serve as RGA vice chair beyond the current year.

HANUSA LAUNCHES: Mary Ann Hanusa is the only declared candidate in the U.S. House race for the seat held by Rep. Cindy Axne, a second-term Des Moines Democrat. The 3rd District includes Council Bluffs and the majority of southwest Iowa.

In a video, Hanusa leans on her experience growing up in her family's Hanusa Hardware store — which operated in Council Bluffs from 1931 through 2015 — talking about using tools and putting in hard work to improve Iowa and the country.

“America seems broken, but with the right tools we can fix anything,” Hanusa, a Republican, says in the video after mentioning “leftist tyranny,” “Antifa” and rioters. “I believe the American dream is DIY.”

Hitting a number of current GOP campaign focal points, Hanusa says in the video she’ll work to “open up” the economy, secure the southern border, shut down “cancel culture” and, lastly, stop “radical socialists for good” over video of prominent Democratic politicians.

“I promise to continue what Donald Trump started,” Hanusa says over a clip of the former president surveying a warehouse and nodding.

Hanusa was elected to the Iowa House of Representatives in 2010 and served from January 2011 until January of this year. She also worked in Washington from 2001 until early 2008 for President George W. Bush in the personal correspondence department.

FINKENAUER REPORTS: Abby Finkenauer, a former state lawmaker and U.S. House 1st District congresswoman, is preparing to run for the U.S. Senate in Iowa in 2022, according to multiple reports.

Although the Cedar Rapids Democrat hasn’t responded to recent inquiries about rumors she’s planning to challenge seven-term Sen. Chuck Grassley, the conservative political website Iowa Field Report and Politico both cited unnamed sources who confirmed Finkenauer has been laying the groundwork and talking to people about running for the Senate.

Finkenauer was a state lawmaker from 2015 to 2018 and was a one-term congresswoman representing Eastern Iowa’s 1st District from 2019 to 2020.

Former county supervisor Dave Muhlbauer is the only declared Democratic candidate in the race. State Auditor Rob Sand, who had been seen as a potential candidate, said Thursday he won’t run for the Senate, but is considering challenging GOP Gov. Kim Reynolds in 2022.

Grassley has not yet said whether he will run for re-election. GOP Sen. James Carlin has announced his intention to run.

Gazette Des Moines Bureau

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