Opinion: Why is Kim Reynolds afraid of Jake Porter?

Libertarian candidate for governor, Jake Porter. Photo courtesy jake-porter.org.

I don’t know about you, but I’ve never received a job without a job interview beforehand. I see political debates as kind of the same idea, an opportunity to get face time and explain your stances to your possible employer (which in this case is we the people, as voters and payers of public employees’ salaries). Have you ever heard of someone being refused a job interview based on the request of another candidate? In an absurd power move fueled by fear, Governor Kim Reynolds is forcing Libertarian candidate Jake Porter out of any debates she is participating in.

In 2017 the Libertarian party was designated with large-party political status in Iowa, a status granted due to the number of Iowans that voted for Libertarian candidates in the 2016 election. On June 19th of this year, KTIV in Sioux City issued invitations to all large-party candidates for a gubernatorial debate. On August 24th, almost two months after issuing an invitation to Porter’s campaign, they received a “new, revised” debate criteria list that would exclude him from the debate. Porter’s campaign noted that according to the new criteria, no candidate was eligible for the debate at that time because there was no new polling data since the primary elections. He called to get an explanation about the revision. He was told by John Curry of KCAU that the Reynolds campaign was who contacted the media originally to host a future debate, then sent participation criteria to the station after invitations were sent out.

I believe that Reynolds was not aware that KTIV would send an invitation to Porter. Part of that analysis comes from the lack of transparency from the TV station to the Porter campaign about where the new criteria came from. Also, on Sept. 5th KWWL posted an article about the upcoming debate, listing Porter as a participant- the next day they issued a clarification that Porter was not included due to the fact that Reynolds has not agreed to debate Porter. It’s not new for a candidate to choose to abstain from debates, but the way that Reynolds is pushing for a debate that excludes a large-party candidate is deplorable and raises the question, why?

Democratic candidate Fred Hubbell knows why Reynolds refuses to debate Porter- she’s afraid of him. In case you’ve forgotten, Kim Reynolds was appointed Governor when Terry Branstad became the American ambassador to China. She has never won an election. Hubbell has publicly called for Reynolds to include Porter in the debate, and Porter has suggested to Hubbell on twitter that Hubbell should boycott any debate with an excluded candidate, and Porter would be happy to debate him anywhere in Iowa. Hubbell is supporting Porter joining debates for the same reason Reynolds fears him; Libertarians steal Republican votes. While the Libertarian views are usually slightly to the right of the Republican platform, both parties have the same conservative values. In a tight race with Hubbell that could be decided by the public’s view of debate results, Reynolds fears losing some of her voter base to the younger, idealistic Libertarian who also believes in smaller government, private business, and the like. If one in ten Iowa Republicans listens to Porter and sways their opinion of which party is the more conservative, the results could be devastating to the Reynolds campaign, leading to a Hubbell victory.

The back-room collusion and lack of respect for other the other conservative candidate shown by the Reynolds campaign and media outlets is deplorable. What else could the Reynolds campaign be doing behind closed doors regarding other candidates? If this claim is false, why has the Reynolds campaign been silent about it? Reynolds campaign’s latest news release regarding debates says nothing about Porter at all, while stating that “Reynolds hopes Hubbell joins her” in the three debates that Reynolds says she will partake in (Hubbell is only listed on one so far), almost passive-aggressively saying between the lines that the debates will not happen if her demands are not met. Kim Reynolds, by trying to exclude Porter, is trying to portray herself incorrectly to voters as the only conservatives in the race. She is trying to keep information from the voters. I believe that all candidates should be allowed the right to speak and explain their platform to allow constituents to be as informed as possible, and a debate between Hubbell and Reynolds that actively excluded a candidate sounds like more of the two-party political monopoly that more and more Americans feel do not represent them.