DES MOINES — With little fanfare, Gov. Kim Reynolds began formally laying the groundwork Thursday for her first full-fledged gubernatorial campaign.
Reynolds, who became Iowa’s 43rd governor last month when Terry Branstad stepped down to become U.S. ambassador to China, issued a news release naming her team for the Reynolds-Gregg campaign. It included a Facebook page, (facebook.com/ReynoldsGregg), a Twitter account (twitter.com/ReynoldsGregg) and a campaign website (ReynoldsGregg.com).
“With today’s announcement we are laying the groundwork for the 2018 election, and that starts with a great team,” Reynolds said.
Phil Valenziano will serve as campaign manager, Angie Hughes will direct finances and Matt Leopold will be political director for Reynolds and acting Lt. Gov. Adam Gregg.
A new Iowa campaign committee has been established, named “Kim Reynolds for Iowa,” with the Iowa Ethics and Campaign Disclosure Board, according to the campaign. Gregg also filed with the board to create a new committee, “Adam Gregg for Iowa.”
“Gov. Reynolds and I are honored to serve the people of Iowa, and we hope to continue to do so for a long time,” Gregg said in the statement.
Reynolds and Gregg said the announcement states their intentions to be candidates for the Republican Party nominations as governor and lieutenant governor in 2018, though they indicated a formal announcement will be made later.
Thursday’s announcement comes less than a week before Cedar Rapids Mayor Ron Corbett plans to make public his intentions of a possible 2018 run for the GOP gubernatorial nomination, and at least eight Democrats have announced or expressed interest in seeking their party’s 2018 nomination as well.
Valenziano, the new Reynolds-Gregg team’s campaign manager, is a New Jersey native who previously served as a senior adviser to Reynolds. Additionally, he served as Iowa director for the Chris Christie presidential campaign, with the Mitt Romney-Paul Ryan presidential campaign and the Republican Party of Iowa.
Hughes, a native of Osceola who has a political science degree from Central College, previously served as an assistant to the Iowa House majority leader, as Iowa director for a conservative grass roots initiative founded by former presidential candidate Carly Fiorina and as policy analyst for Iowa Senate Republicans.
Leopold, a Mount Vernon native who steps in as political director for the Reynolds-Gregg team, previously led the state Republicans’ successful 2016 effort to reclaim the Senate majority, directed the Republican Party of Iowa’s 2016 legislative candidate recruitment efforts and was a field director on the 2014 Branstad-Reynolds campaign. He worked in Branstad’s office in 2015.