Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds Takes National Spotlight With State of the Union Response

Governor Kim Reynolds of the midwestern U.S. state of Iowa will deliver the official Republican response to President Joe Biden’s State of the Union address Tuesday night.

The 62-year-old Reynolds began her political career as the elected treasurer of a rural county, serving four terms in that office before her election to the Iowa state Senate in 2008. She was elevated to the post of lieutenant governor two years later as the running mate of Governor Terry Branstad, succeeding him in 2017 when he was confirmed as then-President Donald Trump’s choice as ambassador to China.

Since being elected governor in her own right a year later, Reynolds has emulated other Republican governors in fighting against coronavirus restrictions such as vaccine and mask mandates, signing into law bills that banned all public schools from implementing mask mandates for students and requiring them to maintain in-person learning, even in the early days of the pandemic.

In a statement announcing her selection to deliver the party’s response to Biden’s address, House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy said Governor Reynolds handled the COVID-19 pandemic “by choosing freedom over lockdowns and personal responsibility over mandates — leading to real economic recovery from the pandemic.”

Reynolds has also pushed other initiatives supported by the most conservative wing of the Republican party, such as banning the teaching of critical race theory, which conservatives contend could further divide Americans and worsen race relations, as well as preventing transgender athletes from participating in high school sports and providing public funds for private schools.

She also just signed legislation that would replace a progressive income tax structure with a single 3.9% flat rate that would take effect in 2026. 

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