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Hard Right In Iowa: The New Branstad-Reynolds Agenda

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GOP Overreach in 2017 Could Prove Costly in 2018

The new Republican agenda is going to be a hard sell come 2018.

As Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds prepares to be governor, she will be forced to defend one of the most far-right legislative sessions in Iowa history – well out of step with Iowa’s moderate tradition.

With the endorsement of the Branstad-Reynolds administration, Republican lawmakers just presided over the most “remarkable conservative shift” in Iowa politics in over a decade. Republicans pushed “a sweeping conservative agenda unlike anything seen in the state.”

Lawmakers moved the state in a conservative direction on several contentious issues:

  • Women’s Health: Reynolds and Branstad backed laws banning abortion after 20 weeks and cutting all funding for Planned Parenthood. While 77 percent of Iowans are in favor of keeping the funding, Reynolds said she was “proud” to be part of the “most pro-life administration in the history of Iowa.”
  • Minimum Wage: In response to several municipalities raising their minimum wages locally, Branstad signed a law blocking the increases and rolling back previously approved increases. Roughly seven in ten Iowans support increasing the minimum wage statewide, yet Reynolds celebrated the law.
  • Collective Bargaining Rights: Branstad privately signed a law slashing bargaining rights for public sector workers. Reynolds said she was “excited” by the reforms.
  • Voting Rights: Branstad pushed a new voter I.D. law that also shortened Iowa’s early voting period making it harder for elderly and disabled voters to cast their ballot.

The ultra-conservative shift leaves Republicans vulnerable to electoral backlash in the 2018 election cycle.

“Iowa voters want common-sense bipartisan leadership that reflects Iowa values,” said DGA Communications Director Jared Leopold. “But, the Branstad-Reynolds administration signed off on the most extreme partisan agenda that Iowans have seen in generations. Voters won’t forget this out-of-the-mainstream agenda when Reynolds and Republicans come asking for their votes in 2018.”