Clay Masters

Morning Edition Host

Clay Masters is Iowa Public Radio’s Morning Edition host and lead political reporter. He was part of a team of member station political reporters who covered the 2016 presidential race for NPR. He also covers environmental issues.

Clay joined the Iowa Public Radio newsroom as a statehouse correspondent in 2012 and started hosting Morning Edition in 2014. Clay is an award-winning multi-media journalist whose radio stories have been heard on various NPR and American Public Media programs.

He was one of the founding reporters of Harvest Public Media, the regional journalism consortium covering agriculture and food production in the Midwest. He was based in Lincoln, Nebraska where he worked for Nebraska’s statewide public radio and television network.

He’s also an occasional music contributor to NPR’s arts desk.

Clay’s favorite NPR program is All Things Considered.

Ways to Connect

Photo Illustration/Clay Masters

After all the winners and losers of Election Day are decided many campaigns and strategists will look at what they did right or wrong. This year there’s a whole new factor thrown into the election, the landmark Supreme Court ruling called Citizens United has changed the game for down ticket races.

Clay Masters / IPR

Both President Obama and Mitt Romney descended on Dubuque Saturday in the final days of their campaigns. Both candidates were promoting their own brand of change.

GOP Presidential candidate Mitt Romney flew into the Dubuque airport and greeted a crowd of more than 2,000 people in a hangar behind a sign that read “REAL CHANGE ON DAY ONE”.

Appearing with Romney was his wife Ann and NASCAR legend Richard Petty… who offered a race car driver’s perspective on the economy.

Clay Masters / IPR

It’s the last full week of presidential campaigning and here in Iowa, we expected to see the presidential candidates a bit more. But Hurricane Sandy changed things. For the most part we got wives and vice-presidential candidates. Paul Ryan will be in Waterloo today and Vice President Joe Biden made stops in Muscatine and Fort Dodge Thursday. 

Clay Masters / IPR

Republican incumbent Steve King and his democratic challenger, Christie Vilsack squared off in a debate last night in Carroll for the newly drawn 4th congressional district. Polls show King with a slight lead over Vilsack. As Iowa Public Radio’s Clay Masters reports, the two drew sharp contrasts. 

Clay Masters / IPR

Both President Obama and Governor Mitt Romney will make campaign stops Wednesday in eastern Iowa. Recent polls show the race is still up in the air. Romney has a solid hold on rural counties here. But in a state that’s population is shifting from rural to urban, the candidates will have to take the suburbs to win. Iowa Public Radio's Clay Masters reports.

Clay Masters / IPR

Last week in our Friday Fact Check, we reviewed some of the statements Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney made while he was campaigning in Iowa. This week, President Barack Obama was here on the heels of the second presidential debate. Morning Edition Host Sarah McCammon caught up with IPR Reporter Clay Masters who covered the president's campaign stop at Cornell College in Mount Vernon on Wednesday. 

Clay Masters / IPR

President Barack Obama made his first campaign stop after Tuesday's presidential debate. It was here in Iowa on the campus of Cornell in Mount Vernon. As Iowa Public Radio’s Clay Masters reports, the president took the opportunity to continue his fiery critique of his opponent Mitt Romney.

Clay Masters / IPR

With the presidential election campaign wrapping up in less than a month, Iowa continues to get lots of attention. IPR's Morning Edition Host Sarah McCammon talks with IPR Correspondent Clay Masters about Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney's  visit to Van Meter, Iowa on Tuesday. 

Iowa Department of Education

Iowa teachers would see their base pay bump if new recommendations from an education task force are put into place. Iowa Public Radio’s Clay Masters reports.

Clay Masters / IPR

Still riding high off as many saw it, his first presidential debate win, Governor Mitt Romney focused on agriculture policy in a campaign stop at a farm near Van Meter Tuesday. While Romney focused primarily on farm policy, Iowa Public Radio’s Clay Masters reports the Republican presidential candidate also got a little personal.

Flanked by a John Deere tractor sporting the Romney/Ryan campaign’s trademark red, white and blue “R,” Mitt Romney addressed 1200 people on a corn field in windy northern Madison County. 

Clay Masters / IPR

A new Amish settlement has sprung up in Delaware County, Iowa near Delhi. Members of the Amish community near Edgewood left the settlement because of economic differences they had with the Bishop  about how much time they could work off the farm. In the capital intensive agriculture industry it’s hard for anyone to work the land without a second income. As the Amish are forced to become more progressive it’s pitting them against the eroding Midsize American farms.

Clay Masters / IPR

The attention often centers on agriculture when a drought hits. But new Iowa Department of Natural Resources numbers show the state’s stream flows are well below normal and groundwater levels are reaching historic lows. There's a ripple effect in how the drought will affect the state’s fish.

Iowa Department of Education

During the last Iowa legislative session, lawmakers failed to agree on how beef up teacher evaluations. Instead they commissioned a task force to make recommendations for next year. The task force met in Des Moines on Wednesday. 

Clay Masters / IPR

Republican Steve King and Democratic challenger Christie Vilsack met in Hampton Monday night for another debate. It was the first time the incumbent met his opponent on ground that wasn’t part of his old district.  The two differed on just about every issue including controversial Iowa voter ID laws.

Controversial voter ID laws across the country are getting a lot of attention. Here in Iowa, voter rules approved by Republican Secretary of State Matt Schultz are also falling under scrutiny. The new rules could keep some of Iowa’s Latinos home on Election Day. That concern was brought up before a state rulemaking panel at the capitol Tuesday. 

Clay Masters / IPR

Both the Republican and Democratic national conventions are over. And both presidential candidates were in Iowa yesterday.  Both President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney were using new jobs numbers to sway voters.

More than 8,000 people crowded outside Jessup Hall at the University of Iowa. A late afternoon rain soaked the crowd… many dressed in Hawkeye yellow and black as well as ponchos.  But the sky cleared up for Vice President Joe Biden to introduce the president.

Clay Masters / IPR

President Barack Obama will be in Ames Tuesday. He’s likely to bring up the wind energy tax credit. That federal tax credit is set to expire at the end of this year. And the president’s opponent Mitt Romney opposes extending that credit. It's put Iowa’s top Republicans at odds with Governor Romney.

Iowa’s top Republicans--from Senator Chuck Grassley to Governor Terry Branstad-- want Romney to reconsider and give the tax credit a little more time.

One of the country's toughest congressional races is in Iowa between Republican Rep. Steve King and the state's former first lady, Christie Vilsack.

Iowa is losing a seat in the House after the election, due to redistricting. Now ultra-conservative King is facing a more moderate electorate as he runs in the newly redrawn 4th Congressional District against a political newcomer.

Clay Masters / IPR

One of the country’s toughest congressional races is here in Iowa. It’s between Steve King, a Republican incumbent and the state’s former First Lady Christie Vilsack - a political newcomer. Iowa’s losing a seat in the House after the election due to redistricting. Now ultra-conservative King is facing a more moderate electorate as he runs in the newly drawn 4th district. 

Clay Masters / IPR

While Iowa’s congressional candidates are campaigning at the state fair, piles of unresolved legislation wait for them back in Washington. Including the farm bill – that large piece of legislation from food stamps to crop insurance. But with 13 days left in the session, passage is looking pretty bleak.  Could there really be no farm bill this year?

Roy Pralle is an 85-year-old retired farmer from Latimer, Iowa. He spends most afternoons playing cribbage with other retired farmers at Dudley's Corner. A diner attached to a gas station in north central Iowa. 

Office of Governor Branstad / Facebook

Starting Wednesday, Governor Terry Branstad starts paying 20 percent of his healthcare premium costs. He signed an executive order last month allowing other state workers to do the same. It has pushing the difference between private and public sector compensation back into the spotlight.

Right now Iowa is among only a handful of states where public workers don’t pay any of those costs.

The drought is beginning to really sink its teeth into the Midwest. More than three-quarters of the nation's corn acres are in a drought zone. In Iowa, Illinois and Indiana, corn crops are burning up and its causing commodity prices to shoot up. Suburban residents are paying to water their lawns, but it isn't doing much good.

Clay Masters / IPR

With drought conditions now gripping more than half the country, many farmers in Iowa are waiting to see if they’ll even have much of a crop to harvest. While farm country feels the brunt of the drought, those in the city are also being hit. Iowa Public Radio’s Clay Masters reports.

Clay Masters / IPR

President Barack Obama made a campaign stop in Cedar Rapids Tuesday. He spent a lot of time discussing his call this week to extend the Bush-era tax cuts to the middle class. He also addressed the economy… something his presumptive GOP opponent, Mitt Romney has attacked him on. And as Iowa Public Radio’s Clay Masters reports, how he addresses the lagging economy could be what makes or breaks his reelection.  

Clay Masters / IPR

Next week the farm bill makes its way to the House. That’s the big piece of legislation that sets food and agriculture policy for the next 5 years. How does this impact the average Iowan that isn’t on the farm?  Iowa State Agriculture economist Bruce Babcock says for the most part it doesn’t… except for one thing. 

"Are the taxpayer dollars being well spent subsidizing really well managed farms, very smart farmers and very wealthy farmers?" he said.

It’s been a year since the Missouri River flooded homes, farmland and businesses, and people in Western Iowa and Nebraska are still recovering and waiting for disaster aid. Host Clay Masters talks with soil expert Dr. Mahdi Al-Kaisi, and farmer Scott Olson about efforts to get the soil back to a functional state. Later, Clay talks with groups involved in flood recovery efforts who share their ideas on how to best manage the river for the future.

Clay Masters / IPR

The mighty Missouri River flows through 7 states and drains one-sixth of the water in the United States.  It’s a powerful force that gives life to the land.  But last year’s flood that lasted over 110 days has people talking… and fighting for the future. Here’s Iowa Public Radio’s Clay Masters, with part two of our special report.

Clay Masters / IPR

The floodwaters that ravaged homes, businesses and farms along a vast stretch of the Missouri River last year are not a distant memory. And as the difficult cleanup and recovery continues, concerns have intensified between those who want there to be more control of this river, and those who believe it should flow freely. In part one of a two-part report, Iowa Public Radio’s Clay Masters finds that common ground has yet to find traction.

Calm before the Corn

May 29, 2012
Clay Masters / IPR

Corn has been good to farmers. Helping fuel a boom in the ag sector. And as this year’s record corn forecast indicates, Midwestern farmers can’t seem to plant enough of the grain. Even with concerns growing about the effectiveness of today’s high-tech genetically engineered seeds, farmers aren’t backing down.

The land is dry and the wind blows hard in Sac County, Iowa.  For Darwin Bettin it’s a good day to be inside selling insurance. He also farms 500 acres of corn and soybeans in western Iowa.

Romney visits Iowa

May 16, 2012
Clay Masters/IPR

Iowa supporters of presumptive GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney showed up at a hotel in downtown Des Moines to get a firsthand look at the presidential candidate. Romney spent the majority of his speech talking economic issues.

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