STREAMING NOW: Watch Now

Iowa GOP zero in on wealth of Democratic governor candidate

Iowa Democratic gubernatorial candidate Fred Hubbell speaks during an Iowa Primary night rally with supporters, Tuesday, June 5, 2018, in Des Moines, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

Fred Hubbell, a former life insurance executive whose family wealth dates back to the mid-1800s, won the Democratic nomination Tuesday and will face Gov. Kim Reynolds in November.

Posted: Jun 8, 2018 6:35 AM
Updated: Jun 8, 2018 6:53 AM

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — For a Republican Party that celebrates capitalism and the American dream of building wealth, the GOP's initial line of attack against the new Iowa Democratic nominee for governor appears a bit out of character.

Fred Hubbell, a former life insurance executive whose family wealth dates back to the mid-1800s, won the Democratic nomination Tuesday and will face Gov. Kim Reynolds in November. Almost immediately, Reynolds and party leaders questioned how voters could trust a candidate who was born rich and later served in leadership roles at several companies. Hubbell's family businesses in Des Moines include ties to real estate and insurance.

"The issue isn't that Fred Hubbell has been rich his entire life, it's that he has no idea what it's like not to be," said Reynolds during her election night speech. "He has no idea what it's like to balance a family checkbook or to make the tough decisions most of us make each and every day when we're trying to make ends meet."

Republican Party of Iowa Chairman Jeff Kaufmann has chimed in by repeatedly referring to Hubbell, 67, as "Prince Frederick." On election night, the party posted a photo-shopped image of Hubbell on its Facebook page as the Monopoly board game mascot, with a top hat, monocle and bags of money surrounding him.

Never mind that Reynolds and Iowa GOP party leaders are big supporters of President Donald Trump, a rich businessman who surrounds himself with conspicuous wealth at his lavish properties such as Mar-a-Lago. In the Iowa governor's race between a woman of modest means and a man who donated nearly $3 million of his own money toward his primary race, the GOP so far is zeroing in on personal wealth.

It's a strategy tried before as more rich candidates run for office from both parties, many of them also funneling millions of dollars to fund their own campaigns. In neighboring Illinois, for example, Democrat J.B. Pritzker, a billionaire member of the family that founded Hyatt hotels, has put more than $100 million of his own money into his bid to unseat Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner, a wealthy former private equity investor. When he won in 2014, Rauner was accused of trying to buy the election.

Jesse Dougherty, communications director for the Republican Party of Iowa, said they're trying to show a clear contrast between Hubbell and the 58-year-old Reynolds. The former county treasurer was elected lieutenant governor and elevated to governor in May 2017 when Terry Branstad became U.S. ambassador to China under Trump. She's now seeking a full term.

Reynolds grew up in a rural Iowa community with less than 1,000 people, once worked at a grocery store and waitressed for the Younkers retail store chain — which Hubbell headed as company chairman.

"Hubbell doesn't understand Iowa because he's never shared the same experience as everyday Iowans — he's never walked a day in their shoes, and he never will," Dougherty said.

Troy Price, chair of the Iowa Democratic Party, said the GOP is taking personal attacks against Hubbell, and his party will instead focus on Reynolds' work alongside Branstad and at the helm of state government, adding: "We're going to continue to talk about facts and talk about record."

Reynolds signed into law what is considered the nation's strictest abortion law — banning most abortions around six weeks of pregnancy. Hubbell is a former board member of Planned Parenthood and strong supporter of abortion rights. Hubbell has promised to undo the abortion ban and reverse the state's privatized Medicaid program amid reports of reduced services.

Hubbell has also been critical of Reynolds signing into law more than $2 billion in tax cuts over several years, though he says he won't undo them now because they're in effect. Republicans argue Hubbell has been inconsistent on the issue.

Rachel Paine Caufield, a Drake University professor of political science, said Reynolds believes she has a small town story that Iowa voters can relate to, citing U.S. Sen. Joni Ernst, who won a five-way primary in 2014 and garnered national attention for running an ad about castrating hogs.

Caufield said Reynolds is aiming to show the public someone "who's just been really fortunate and worked her way up, worked hard, connects with average everyday Iowans."

For Hubbell, his family's wealth can be traced back to Frederick M. Hubbell, the candidate's great-great grandfather. The elder Hubbell was often referred to as the wealthiest man in Iowa, according to biographical information maintained by the University of Iowa. The elder Hubbell created an estate trust for his family that was eventually valued at about $200 million.

The family owned an ornate residence called Terrace Hill, and gave it to the state as the governor's mansion in the early 1970s — meaning that if he wins, Hubbell could move into a home that once belonged to his ancestors.

Hubbell has tried to flip the script in part by highlighting his years of philanthropy. It includes roles in multiple organizations that have focused on the environment, health care and higher education. At a debate last month, he said Iowa residents are less concerned with where a politician grew up and his or her wealth than knowing whether that public official cares about them.

"Do you listen to them? Are you going to help improve their lives?" he said. "Or you just talking about it, but you never do anything?"

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 25208

Reported Deaths: 1060
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hennepin8514616
Ramsey3075128
Stearns203013
Nobles15445
Anoka142970
Dakota134957
Washington64532
Olmsted63410
Kandiyohi4971
Rice4622
Scott4362
Clay42728
Mower3452
Wright3202
Todd3190
Sherburne2462
Carver2182
Benton1783
Steele1600
Blue Earth1420
Martin1325
Freeborn1250
St. Louis11814
Pine890
Unassigned8810
Nicollet8810
Winona8015
Cottonwood760
Watonwan750
Carlton750
Crow Wing712
Otter Tail700
Goodhue683
Chisago621
Polk612
Lyon570
Itasca5510
Dodge530
Chippewa511
Morrison470
Meeker450
Douglas440
Le Sueur441
Becker400
Murray390
Jackson390
McLeod370
Isanti350
Waseca260
Rock220
Swift190
Mille Lacs191
Pennington190
Faribault190
Wabasha180
Fillmore171
Sibley160
Brown162
Beltrami150
Cass142
Norman130
Marshall120
Pipestone120
Kanabec111
Wilkin113
Wadena100
Koochiching90
Pope90
Aitkin80
Mahnomen61
Yellow Medicine60
Big Stone60
Lincoln50
Redwood50
Renville50
Red Lake40
Grant40
Lac qui Parle30
Clearwater30
Traverse30
Houston20
Hubbard20
Roseau20
Lake10
Kittson10
Stevens10

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 19669

Reported Deaths: 555
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Polk4236133
Woodbury276136
Black Hawk174745
Linn95379
Dallas91623
Marshall89616
Buena Vista8100
Johnson6149
Wapello59712
Muscatine55741
Crawford5282
Tama40327
Scott36110
Dubuque34619
Louisa34511
Sioux2830
Pottawattamie2698
Jasper26017
Washington1898
Wright1780
Warren1350
Plymouth1332
Allamakee1204
Story1161
Mahaska9510
Poweshiek908
Henry711
Bremer696
Des Moines651
Boone650
Clinton641
Taylor560
Clarke560
Guthrie513
Cedar481
Benton431
Hamilton430
Webster421
Monroe385
Shelby370
Jones360
Clayton343
Osceola340
Buchanan330
Iowa330
Marion320
Cherokee310
Jefferson300
Cerro Gordo291
Madison292
Lee270
Fayette270
Monona250
Winneshiek240
Lyon240
Davis230
Harrison230
Dickinson210
Sac200
Grundy200
Mills190
Floyd191
Humboldt181
Clay170
Delaware171
Hardin170
Butler171
Lucas170
Emmet160
Hancock160
Appanoose143
Ida140
Page140
Franklin140
Keokuk140
Pocahontas130
Greene130
Howard120
Cass120
Audubon121
Jackson120
Carroll110
Winnebago110
Chickasaw100
Kossuth100
Adair90
Van Buren90
Union90
Montgomery80
Adams70
Palo Alto70
Fremont40
Ringgold40
Mitchell40
Worth30
Calhoun20
Wayne10
Decatur10
Unassigned10
Rochester
Clear
70° wxIcon
Hi: 91° Lo: 62°
Feels Like: 70°
Mason City
Clear
71° wxIcon
Hi: 95° Lo: 64°
Feels Like: 71°
Albert Lea
Clear
72° wxIcon
Hi: 93° Lo: 62°
Feels Like: 72°
Austin
Clear
73° wxIcon
Hi: 95° Lo: 64°
Feels Like: 73°
Charles City
Overcast
72° wxIcon
Hi: 93° Lo: 64°
Feels Like: 72°
Powerful storms and summer-like conditions are coming our way
KIMT Radar
KIMT Eye in the sky

Latest Video

${item.thumbnail.title}

StormTeam 3: Today's Severe Weather Update

Image

Yoga studio closes space, tries new idea

Image

Forager Brewery welcomes new business

Image

Salons reopen at 25% capacity

Image

DMC's impact on Rochester's economic recovery

Image

Forager Brewery - best patio in Rochester

Image

Protests in Mason City

Image

Barbershop town hall discusses racial profiling

Image

Minnesota salons reopen

Image

Barbershop Talk: Town hall

Community Events