It took more than two hours after polls closed for supporters at the Iowa GOP election event to get in the mood for a party.
Small groups crowded around TVs broadcasting FOX News’ national election results. Cheers broke out when notable Democrats like U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill from Missouri and Andrew Gillum, candidate for Florida governor, lost their races. Supporters otherwise talked among themselves while music played softly in the background.
As Iowa’s 1st and 3rd Congressional Districts went to Democrats, the mood softened.
Finally, party leaders took the stage to help rouse the crowd.
U.S. Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, encouraged supporters to hang tight as Fred Hubbell took an early lead against Gov. Kim Reynolds. She recalled her 2014 race against Bruce Braley, who was also predicted to win early as the votes from “urban folks” came in first.
“We have a lot of those rural communities that really support our conservative efforts, so I want you to keep that in mind as we move through the night,” Ernst said.
And that’s exactly what happened. Several national news organizations called the race for Reynolds just 25 minutes later. Supporters rushed away from their TVs and to the stage, where they chanted Reynolds’ campaign slogan, “Keep Iowa Moving.”
► Election Day 2018: Iowa Democrats stunned, confused after Fred Hubbell loses, but others make big gains
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Front and center was Angie Stonewall of Urbandale, wearing blue pants dotted with white stars, an American flag scarf and handbag, and a Make America Great Again hat. Stonewall, who made calls on behalf of Reynolds for several months, couldn’t contain her excitement, hugging everyone she came across as the crowd celebrated the governor’s win.
“I just love everything about her,” she said.
At that moment, Reynolds, who took over as the state’s chief executive office after former Gov. Terry Branstad took the post of U.S. ambassador to China, became the first woman elected to the position in Iowa.
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The crowd of a couple hundred supporters had the loudest response of the night when Lt. Gov. Adam Gregg introduced her as such.
“With the help of all of you tonight, Gov. Kim Reynolds proved that there is no more glass ceiling under that golden dome,” he said.
But it was Reynolds who really got the group moving. As she listed the many accomplishments of the state, the crowd responded with, “We’re just getting started.”
Can Iowa add more jobs? “We’re just getting started.” Can more taxes be cut? “We’re just getting started.”
After the fourth question, Reynolds paused. “We have a few more of these, so hang in there — that’s what happens when you’re ranking well in all these things.”
She ended with, “And, when they ask if we can keep Iowa the No. 1 state in the country? We all say, ‘We’re just getting started.'”
► More about Election Day 2018:
- Results and complete coverage
- Editorial: Reynolds should work to be the governor of all Iowans
- Finkenauer defeats Blum to become first woman to represent Iowa’s 1st District
- Axne victory ‘proved tonight we’re not a red state,’ Iowa Democrat says
- Young in defeat: ‘Tonight the people, unfortunately, didn’t choose our ideas’