Democratic Iowa State Rep. Ras Smith launched his bid for governor in the 2022 election to find solutions to the common struggle all Iowans experience.
Smith is the first prominent Democrat to throw his hat in. Republican incumbent Kim Reynolds has yet to announce if she is seeking reelection but said she probably will. Smith said the overarching message of his campaign is to rebuild communities.
Smith said he intends to engage and incorporate young voters in his campaign.
“We want to make sure that we are building a foundation for Iowa in the future, and that means giving those who are the future of the state hands-on experiences so that we are really making Iowa what they want to see,” Smith said.
Smith represents District 62, which includes Waterloo, Elk Run Heights, Evansdale and Raymond after assuming office in 2017 and winning his reelection to the Iowa House of Representatives in 2020.
Smith said he is proud of his ability to build relationships, regardless of party affiliation. Last summer, Smith was a leader behind the historical More Perfect Union plan, which received 150-0 votes with every Democrat and Republican voting to approve the plan.
“That is because of those relationships," Smith said. "The ability to bring Black Lives Matter, law enforcement, Democrats, Republicans, independents, everybody to the table and say, ‘Today is a day to get something done for Iowa.’”
Smith graduated from the University of Northern Iowa with a bachelor’s in exercise science and a master’s degree in youth and human services. Throughout his time in the legislature, Smith has served on the education, transportation, judiciary and agriculture committees.
Smith said his campaign intends to go to where college students are and allow them to come as they are.
“For me, it is ensuring that our state provides opportunities for people who want to stay after they graduate, but also, our state has to be a better partner in owning some of the costs of college and the Regent Institute.”
Outside of Des Moines, Smith is the Iowa consultant for the nonprofit organization Communities in Schools while serving as a youth mentor. Smith, native to Waterloo, his wife Amalia and his two daughters attend Faith Temple Baptist Church.
“Everything from our family farms to the church I go to here in Waterloo, that is what made me who I am and taught me the true meaning of this state and how we come together to strive and overcome our common struggle,” Smith said.
More recently, Smith said Reynolds has failed to have the backs of her constituents, and he wants to unite the state for the good of Iowans. The main focus of Smith’s campaign is rebuilding the foundation of Iowa by becoming bold about the basics.
“That means making sure we really value education and prioritize students again, understanding that our work in education is so much more than just the academics now,” Smith said. “It is taking care of the whole challenge and supporting a family.”
Smith said he wants to transition Iowans from a paycheck-to-paycheck lifestyle to look toward the future and save for the next generation.
“We are having conversations about striving for a $15 an hour minimum wage when we really should be moving Iowans to $50,000 a year so they can plan for retirement and pay for their kids’ college,” Smith said.
While the infrastructure debates take place in Washington, D.C., Smith said similar conversation should also be happening in the state by making Iowa’s agriculture climate resilient. Smith identified child care and the treatment of the elderly in long-term care facilities as key issues that need to be addressed in Iowa, but Smith said he is excited to get to work.
When asked if there are any former or current governors or state officials he would compare his campaign to, Smith’s response was that he is all Iowa.
“For me, I try to build out our campaign team in a way that allows us to meet people where they are but also allows people to come as they are and not feel as though they have to be perfect,” Smith said. “If nothing else, I want to govern as though I am an everyday Iowan, because that is what I am.”