Clay Masters

Morning Edition Host

Clay Masters joined the Iowa Public Radio newsroom as a statehouse and political correspondent in 2012 and started hosting IPR’s 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 Nebraska where he worked for Nebraska’s statewide public radio and television network. 

Clay continues to report on a wide variety of topics including politics, health and the environment. He’s also a regular music contributor to NPR’s arts desk.

Clay’s favorite NPR program is All Things Considered.

Ways to Connect

Emily Woodbury

It’s been a long election season here in Iowa, and as the dust begins to settle, there's one thing left to do: grab a pint and debrief with fellow Iowans.

On this special edition of River to River, Ben Kieffer and Clay Masters host post-election conversations in front of live audiences in Marion and Des Moines.

Clay Masters / IPR

The major presidential nominees have made their final pitch to Iowa ahead of Election Day.  Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump have had very different approaches to this swing state. 

“You talked to me about the skyrocketing cost of college and prescription drugs. The quiet epidemic of addiction and mental health issues, the challenge of balancing work and family,” Clinton said at her final Iowa rally held at Roosevelt High School in Des Moines in late October.

Amy Mayer/John Pemble / IPR

Next week, Iowans will decide whether to send Republican Senator Chuck Grassley back to Washington for a seventh term. His main opponent, Democrat Patty Judge, is working to paint the senator as a leading cause for obstruction in the US Senate. 

Des Moines and Urbandale Police Departments

Police in Des Moines and Urbandale says two officers killed in ambush-style attacks this morning were likely shot before they saw their assailant.

Urbandale Officer Justin Martin, who has been with the department for about 15 months, and Des Moines Police Sgt. Anthony Beminio were killed in separate attacks, about two miles and 20-minutes apart, while sitting in their patrol cars early this morning.

Michael Leland/IPR

As Iowans prepare to cast their ballots next week, the race is on for control of the Iowa Senate where Democrats have a slim 26-24 majority.    If Republicans take enough seats to win the majority,   it will mean the GOP will be in charge of both houses of the legislature and the governor’s office for the first time since the 1996 election.   Republican Party of Iowa chair Jeff Kauffman says the two parties are competing hard in competitive districts across the state.

Pat Blank/IPR

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump told a large crowd of supporters in a Cedar Rapids amphitheater last night that he was happy to hear that the FBI is reviewing newly-discovered emails related to Democrat Hillary Clinton’s private server. 

“The biggest political scandal since Watergate, and it’s everybody’s hope that justice, at last, can be delivered,”   Trump told a crowd packed into a downtown riverfront amphitheater.

Jon Pemble/IPR file

The heads of both Iowa’s Republican and Democratic parties say they’re not concerned about party unity. That’s in spite of the fact both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are the least-liked presidential candidates in the history of U.S. polling.

On the Republican side of the aisle, scores of prominent GOPers are refusing to support or defend Trump. This include several Iowa state lawmakers.

But chair Jeff Kaufmann says some of these un-endorsements are politically motivated.   

Phil Roeder / Flickr

Religious voters have become increasingly divided this election season, with a survey this Tuesday by the Public Religion Research Institute showing White Catholics favoring Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump 46 to 42 percent. Conversely, Evangelicals have stayed steady in their support of Trump: in that same survey there was no significant change in White Evangelical Protestants support for Trump, with 65 percent of them still supporting the Republican nominee.

Clay Masters/IPR

Former President Bill Clinton kicked off a bus tour in Iowa today, encouraging voters to vote early for his wife, Hillary Clinton. Early voting began in the state last month.

The rally at Simpson College began with U.S. Agriculture Secretary and Former Iowa Governor Tom Vilsack listing Midwest Republicans who have distanced themselves from their presidential nominee.

“There are senators from Nebraska and from South Dakota that have disavowed Donald Trump but unfortunately and tragically not the senators from Iowa,” he said.

The Ethanol Effect

Oct 7, 2016
Clay Masters / IPR

A new PBS documentary focusing on the impact of ethanol production airs this weekend on Iowa Public Television. IPR's Clay Masters speaks with environmental and energy reporter David Biello about his new documentary "The Ethanol Effect". 

Clay Masters/IPR

Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders campaigned at Drake University in Des Moines today on behalf of Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton.

“I’m here to say vote for Hillary Clinton on Election Day and the day after that we’re going to roll up our sleeves and make sure that we bring forth the most progressive agenda in the history of the United States of America,” Sanders said.

Sanders did well with young voters in last February’s Iowa caucuses, and narrowly lost to Clinton.  That group has been a crucial voting bloc for Democrats in past presidential elections. 

Clay Masters / IPR

Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton campaigned in Iowa Des Moines today, the same day early voting for the November election began in Iowa, and a day after her main opponent, Republican Donald Trump, campaigned in Council Bluffs.

Clinton spoke to hundreds of supporters on at Cowles Commons plaza in downtown Des Moines, asking them if they were ready to go to the polls.

“Well, luckily in Iowa you can start today, lots of folks don’t have that opportunity across the country,” she said.

John Pemble / IPR

Iowa voters can start casting their ballots by mail today. Both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton have been campaigning in this state this week like it’s their last chance. Because with many voters it may be. Hillary Clinton campaigns in Des Moines today while Donald Trump was in Council Bluffs on Wednesday.

Iowa’s Secretary of State says he expects more than 35% of Iowa ballots to be cast early starting today. Republicans here have seen a slight increase in voters requesting absentee ballots since 2012, while Democrats have seen a big drop off.

Cedar Rapids

The Cedar River in downtown Cedar Rapids is expected to crest Monday at 24 feet. That’s seven feet lower than in 2008 when floodwaters ravaged the city’s downtown. Cedar Rapids Mayor Ron Corbett says that forecast could change.

“We’re at the mercy of the river, we’ll be able do an adequate job of keeping most of the water in the banks of the river at 22 feet, so 24 is really go to be challenging for us and we just hope it doesn’t get any worse,” he says.

Clay Masters / IPR

Many Republican leaders in swing states are split or lukewarm on supporting their nominee for president. Not so in Iowa where Republicans have taken over many of the state’s top state and federal elected posts. All of the state’s top elected Republicans have announced they are supporting Donald Trump for president, and the Republican National Committee has made Iowa one of its priorities in November’s election.

John Pemble/IPR

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump was back in Iowa today, sticking close to his prepared remarks and continuing to go after his rival Hillary Clinton over comments she made about his supporters over the weekend.

At a rally in the Des Moines suburb of Clive, Trump blasted Clinton for putting half of his supporters in a “basket of deplorables”.

“While my opponent slanders you as deplorable and irredeemable, I call you hardworking American patriots and want a better future for all of our people,” he said.

Clay Masters / IPR

Donald Trump returned to Iowa Saturday where the race between him and Hillary Clinton remains very close. Trump was there for Iowa freshman Sen. Joni Ernst's Roast and Ride fundraiser, which features a motorcycle ride and barbeque.

Sen. Joni Ernst led the group of more than 400 riders on a 42-mile trip that started at a Harley Davidson dealer in Des Moines and ended on the Iowa State fairgrounds. Trump did not participate in the ride.

Clay Masters / IPR

There’s one issue both major presidential candidates seem to be in agreement on. Both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton say they’re opposed to President Obama’s multinational trade agreement known as the Trans-Pacific Partnership. In the swing state of Iowa, many agricultural groups are in favor of the TPP for new markets it will open for exports like Iowa pork.

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AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

There's one issue the major presidential candidates seem to agree on. Both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton say they're opposed to President Obama's multi-national trade agreement known as the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

Clay Masters / IPR

There’s been a lot of talk in Iowa about water quality. From failed attempts by the legislature and the governor to come up with new funding, to the state’s largest water utility suing three rural boards of supervisors in northwest Iowa. That area of the state is part of a region called the “prairie pothole”. It stretches from Canada, down through the Dakotas, northern Montana and western Minnesota as well.

In North Dakota, much of this habitat is still intact and conservationists are concerned about the health implications of a landscape looking more like Iowa.

John Pemble/IPR

Republican Congressman Steve King says he does not have any qualms with Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump’s plan to build a wall on the Mexican border. He says he’d go even further. King made his comments before a crowd at the Des Moines Register soapbox on the opening day of the Iowa State Fair.

Clay Masters/IPR

Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton was back in Des Moines Wednesday for her first appearance since her close win over Bernie Sanders in the Iowa caucuses. 

After touring a local t-shirt store and stopping at a bakery, Clinton spoke to about 1500 people packed in the gym at Lincoln High School. She says in her first 100 days as president she’ll make the biggest investment in good paying jobs since World War Two. She also spoke highly of Iowa wind energy.

Clay Masters / IPR

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump was in Iowa last night, speaking just before his rival Hillary Clinton accepted the Democratic presidential nomination. This was Trump’s first trip to the state since coming in second in the state’s kick-off caucuses.

Trump told thousands packed in a hotel convention room in downtown Cedar Rapids he learned a lot from Iowa.

"I went around for two months even after I won in New Hampshire. I kept going back to Iowa," Trump told the crowd. "I’d go what happened?"

John Pemble / IPR

  The Democratic National Convention begins on Monday in Philadelphia and Iowa’s 44 Democratic delegates will be there. Hillary Clinton is expected to formally get the nomination of her party for president. Iowa Democratic Party Chairwoman Andy McGuire is confident the party will unite behind Clinton even though some Iowa delegates continue to back Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders. She says Clinton and Sanders had a lot in common.

“We talk about the inclusion we have in our party,” McGuire says. “I think people will come around to being unified.”

John Pemble / IPR

 The Republican National Convention starts in Cleveland on Monday and 30 delegates will represent Iowa. Jeff Kaufmann is the chairman of the Iowa Republican Party. He says Iowa delegates are bound to the presumptive presidential nominee even though a small group of delegates still want to back Iowa caucus winner Texas Senator Ted Cruz.

“Bottom line is we’ve got some folks that still want Cruz to be the nominee. That’s not going to happen," Kaufmann says. "The overwhelming majority of the Iowa delegation understands that Trump is our nominee.”

Clay Masters / IPR

  Presidential hopefuls barnstorm Iowa for months or even years in the run up to the state's first in the nation contest. Many hit all of its 99 counties, but the general election is all about the state's half dozen electoral votes. That means the campaigns treat it differently.

An efficient way to get voters is to target places like Ankeny, Iowa. New census data shows this small farm town turned bustling Des Moines suburb is the third-fastest growing city in the country. Gary Lorenz is its mayor. He says growth is more than just building roads.

Clay Masters/IPR

This week IPR News is taking a look at water quality in the state.

Iowa Lawmakers, farmers and environmentalists continue to debate the best way to curb water quality issues, following an unsuccessful attempt to fund more projects this legislative session.

Clay Masters / IPR

This week IPR News is taking a look at water quality in the state.

A state cost share program designed to help Iowa farmers install nutrient reduction practices on their farm is entering its fourth year.  Lawmakers and the governor struggled this legislative session to come up with a way to spend more money on water quality in the state. In the last three years, the state has awarded $12 million on 45 different projects.

Clay Masters / IPR

This week IPR News is taking a look at water quality in the state.

John Pemble / IPR

Lawmakers return to the capitol in Des Moines for what is expected to be the final week of the 2016 legislative session. Morning Edition Host Clay Masters talked with IPR Statehouse Correspondent Joyce Russell about the big issues they’re going to tackle (or not) before they can go home.

1)      The State Budget. This is always an issue Democrats in the Senate and Republicans in the House have to agree over.  A GOP Human Services Budget bill that defunds Planned Parenthood must be reconciled with the Democratic Senate.  

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