Kevin Reynolds doll makes Statehouse debut

DES MOINES ? Kevin Reynolds, husband of Gov. Kim Reynolds, was encased in Iowa history on Wednesday.

Reynolds -- known as Iowa?s first spouse, first gentleman or as the governor?s sometimes calls him ?the first dude? -- was on hand for an unveiling ceremony of his doll likeness that joined 44 other figurines in the First Doll display case in the first-floor south rotunda at the Iowa Capitol Building.

Reynolds has occupied a unique place in Iowa history since his wife was inaugurated as Iowa?s first woman governor last May when she succeeded outgoing Gov. Terry Branstad, who resigned the post to become President Trump?s choice as U.S. ambassador to China.

?It?s an honor to be the first gentleman to join this unique collection,? Reynolds told a small crowd that gathered to witness the unveiling a doll with porcelain face, hands and feet and a cloth likeness of the tuxedo he wore at his wife?s inauguration. The other 44 dolls depict likenesses of the state?s previous first ladies dating back to the state?s territorial beginning in 1838.

?It?s actually a tux that I own. There?s nothing special about it that I?m aware of,? Reynolds said during a brief question-and-answer session following his doll?s unveiling. ?Initially, I just said get a G.I. Joe doll and that would be fine.?

Diane Becker, administrator at Terrace Hill, said the foundation contracted with a master dollmaker in Colorado to produce the Kevin Reynolds? doll, noting it was very difficult to find dollmakers that produce adult dolls and male dolls.

?We tried to make it look like Kevin,? Becker said. It?s pretty good, I think.?

The display case was unveiled on Dec. 28, 1976, and is one of the Capitol?s most-popular attractions, said Joni Arnett, a tour guide supervisor. Reynolds will be the fifth doll added since the display?s inception ? including two separate likenesses of former first lady Chris Branstad in gowns from her husband?s 1983 inauguration and his return to the office in 2011.

?This is a very special day for me,? said Arnett, who called the display ?a very concrete reminder of who we are as Iowans? and ?a reminder that no matter what your gender is, you can aspire to the highest levels of public service.?

?There are millions of visitors that have come through this building at the time that we?ve had this display and they all stop and look and they all really enjoy the doll case,? Arnett noted.

?Hundreds of thousands of Iowa schoolchildren that have come here and they stand in front of the case and as the tour guides explain what they?re looking at, talk about the histories of the governors, there are two questions that always come up: one of those questions is why isn?t there a man in the case and the other question is if there is a woman governor what doll will be put in the place,? she said. ?So I have to say that I?m really pleased today that we finally have the answers to those questions.?