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Rep. Ras Smith, broker of police accountability law, to run for Iowa governor

Iowa Rep. Ras Smith, a Democrat, announced Tuesday his candidacy for the governor's race in 2022. Photo courtesy of Iowa legislature
Iowa Rep. Ras Smith, a Democrat, announced Tuesday his candidacy for the governor's race in 2022. Photo courtesy of Iowa legislature

June 15 (UPI) -- Iowa state Rep. Ras Smith, broker of a state police accountability law after the murder of George Floyd, announced Tuesday his bid for governor.

Smith, 33, a Waterloo, Iowa native and three-term representative, is also the first major Democrat to declare a run in the 2022 race for governor, the Des Moines Register reported.

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"Iowans deserve a governor who will embrace the challenges of today as opportunities to lead tomorrow. A governor that when the days get long will have your back," Smith said in a video announcing his campaign. "Because in Iowa we're proud of the work that we do and the shoes that we wear. We deserve a government that is worthy of our work."

Earlier in the video, Smith, who has a background as a youth counselor with a master's degree from University of Northern Iowa, called for unity to address challenges together.

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"I grew up with a military mom and a factory father," Smith said in his campaign video. "They taught us faith, hard work and service to community. To show grace to people no matter where they come from, or what shoes they wear, or what community they live in or which party they vote for. Because, at the end of the day, we're all on this journey together."

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Smith raised his profile last year when he helped garner bipartisan support in the Iowa legislature to pass a police accountability law in the wake of the murder of Floyd in Minneapolis, the Des Moines Register noted.

The law bans use of chokeholds unless officers believe their lives are at risk, and revokes law enforcement certification for officers who were fired or resigned due to misconduct. It also grants the Iowa Attorney General's Office the power to prosecute officers who commit a criminal offense leading to someone's death, and requires all law enforcement agencies to provide annual implicit bias and de-escalation training.

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Smith cited late civil rights leader, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, who said, "it may be true that law cannot make a man love me, but it can restrain him from lynching me," as he outlined a proposal to address police violence and misconduct in the wake of the murder of Floyd.

Other bills the Republican-controlled legislature subsequently passed stand in contrast to the police accountability law, Smith said, including a bill awaiting Republic Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds signature, which would raise penalties for some offenses related to protests.

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Smith has also criticized Iowa's response to the COVID-19 pandemic in meat packing plants, demanding more stringent oversight to protect worker's health, and he has traveled the state this year promoting an Iowa Workers Bill of Rights.

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He plans to hold an event in Waterloo Tuesday evening to declare his candidacy in person.

Reynolds has not formally announced yet, but is expected to seek reelection next year.

"Listen, I will make a formal announcement later," Reynolds told the Des Moines Register earlier this month. "But I'm not done with what I want to do. I've got a lot of things I want to continue to work on. I love this state."

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