Governor Reynolds. (IPBS photo)

Governor Kim Reynolds has taken the oath of office for a second full term as Iowa’s governor.

“I am so honored to be here and I want to just start by saying, ‘Thank you,'” Reynolds said at the start of her inaugural address this morning. “‘Thank you, Iowans, for the trust you’ve placed in me and for giving me the indescribable honor of serving as the governor of this great state.”

Reynolds has been Iowa’s chief executive for more than five and a half years. She took over in mid-2017 after Governor Terry Branstad resigned and now Reynolds has won two statewide races on her own. Today, Reynolds talked at length about governing during the pandemic.

“I wasn’t trying to make decisions for you, but as one of you,” Reynolds said, “using the best judgment and deepest empathy I could summon in those trying times.”

Then, after Reynolds criticized other states and the federal government for pandemic-related shutdowns, the crowd gave Reynolds a standing ovation. “It’s because states like Iowa had the courage and the sense to swim against the current, today we rarely see public officials make the case for such policies,” she said and the crowd stood to applaud. “In fact, we often hear denials they did.”

Reynolds spent a long segment of her address talking about the Iowa Republican Party’s Caucuses in 2024, sending a message to the presidential candidates who’ll be campaigning here.

“Iowans look beyond the flash, beyond the credentials. They peek beyond the curtains and consultants to see the real person,” Reynolds said. “You can’t buy a victory in Iowa and you can’t fake it either.”

Reynolds, who has not endorsed a candidate, said fame, wealth and political connections won’t be the deciding factor for Iowa GOP Caucus-goers.

“They need to see that you have the moral conviction to do what’s right, not what’s politically expedient,” Reynolds said, “because anyone can have a 10 point plan to save America, not everyone has the moral compass to do it.”

Reynolds said it “pains” her to see Democrats have decided to have South Carolina host the first voting event as they nominate a presidential candidate in 2024, but she said the move will benefit her Republican Party.

“So to the national Democrats, to President Biden, I say this: ‘Reconsider. Come back to Iowa, and you won’t regret it,'” Reynolds said. “And to my fellow Republicans: ‘Welcome back!’ Iowans look forward to hosting you over the next year; to having you in their living rooms and to having real conversations. We take this opportunity — and we know it is an opportunity — very seriously. We hope you do, too.”

Former Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson is considering a run for the White House in 2024 and he was in the crowd today for Reynolds’ inauguration.

Video of the Inauguration here, courtesy of Iowa PBS.

Earlier this week, Reynolds outlined her 2023 legislative agenda in a speech to the Iowa General Assembly. Today, Reynolds addressed most of the same legislators, along with a large group of campaign supporters and her family.

“We’ve built such a strong foundation upon which Iowa can continue to rise. A place where children and parents come before special interests, where life is protected, and work is rewarded,” she said. “A place where families thrive, businesses grow, and government is responsive to the people. And this is the work we will continue to do.”

Reynolds is hosting open houses at the governor’s mansion and the Iowa Capitol this afternoon. This evening’s Inaugural Ball in downtown Des Moines starts at 7 p.m.