Gov. Kim Reynolds is coming to Iowa City on Thursday for a public event at Hamburg Inn No. 2 on Linn Street. The governor will holding her KIM (Keep Iowa Moving) rally at noon, as part of a swing through eastern Iowa, starting that morning in Cedar Falls and ending in Keokuk.
Although this is the first campaign rally Reynolds has held in Iowa City this year, she has used Iowa City in her campaign. In February, she sent out a fundraising letter boasting about her support of a bill to punish so-called “sanctuary cities,” which the bill’s Republican sponsors openly said was aimed at punishing Iowa City. The bill’s manager Rep. Steve Holt of Dennison said the bill was needed because Iowa City’s welcoming policies towards immigrants were “in defiance of the rule of law” (not true) and created the “potential for a San Francisco right here in Iowa.”
In her fundraising letter, Reynolds wrote, “By sending in $10, $15, or $25 today, you can send a message to far-left liberals in Des Moines and Iowa City on this important issue.”
Regardless of how much money Reynolds can rake in by stoking the Iowa City-related fears of her supporters, she certainly knows the Reynolds/Gregg ticket won’t be receiving much in the way of votes from the city. In 2014, Gov. Terry Branstad and then-Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds won every county in Iowa but one — Johnson. It wasn’t even close. Branstad’s Democratic opponent, Jack Hatch, received 59 percent of the vote, in an election that had the county’s highest voter turnout (also 59 percent) in a nonpresidential year since 1982.
But Reynolds might be able to collect images of liberal protestors behaving rudely, which has become a big talking point on the right recently. After labeling sexual assault survivors confronting senators in the Capitol during the hearings on Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination “liberal mobs” (Sen. Chuck Grassley even endorsed a conspiracy theory with anti-Semitic undertones about the protesters), President Trump has been invoking imaginary mobs of angry liberals at his rallies to stimulate the Republican base. Reynolds herself has been trying to appeal to Republicans with the specter of liberals running wild since the beginning of her campaign.
At her first public fundraiser in October 2017, Reynolds told supporters, “As we all know as we travel the state, the liberals are unhinged and they are out for us.” Following the fundraiser speech, Little Village contacted the Reynolds campaign to ask who the governor was describing as an unhinged liberal. Campaign communications director Pat Garrett replied with links to 31 news stories, blog posts and tweets.
Almost half the links weren’t about Iowans, and only one of the Iowa links involved behavior that can fairly be described as unhinged. In August 2017, a Waterloo man was arrested for tweeting threats to Sen. Joni Ernst, but politics weren’t involved. According to The Gazette, the man “claimed he had been sending tweets to Ernst since she was elected because he wanted her help to get a waiver to join the military. He told [FBI] agents he needed the waiver because of his criminal history and age.”
Reynolds later claimed that when she said “unhinged liberals,” she was referring to people who had left mean-spirited remarks on social media sites.
“I’m probably talking about a very small, minute population,” she explained, in an attempt to minimize her statement.