It took a while, but Iowa's Republican Party came up with a nominee for state secretary of agriculture in this fall’s election. The race was sent to the state convention because none of the five candidates received the 35% of votes required to win the June 5 primary.
At the June 16 state convention, over the course of four rounds of voting, the 1,100 delegates determined Mike Naig, the current ag secretary, as winner of the nomination. Before this was decided, all five candidates made their pitch as to why they should be the party's nominee. To win, a candidate needed to get 50% plus one vote. Naig nearly won the June 5 primary, gaining 34.7% of the votes in the five-candidate race. In the primary a candidate needed 35% of the votes to win.
Strong candidates running
At the state convention, after each round of voting, the bottom candidate was dropped from the ballot. Chad Ingels was eliminated in the first round, followed by Craig Lang and Dan Zumbach. It came down to Mike Naig and Ray Gaesser and ended up being 54% for Naig. Naig, age 40, will take on Democratic challenger Tim Gannon, age 41, in November. It’s a four-year term on the November ballot.
Naig, who grew up on a farm near Cylinder in northwest Iowa, served five years as Iowa deputy ag secretary. In March Gov. Kim Reynolds appointed him secretary to replace Bill Northey, who took a job with USDA. Naig told the delegates at the state convention he expects a competitive race against Democratic challenger Gannon this fall. Gannon is a former USDA associate administrator of the Risk Management Agency, who now farms with his family near Mingo in central Iowa.
Naig says his main goals include encouraging young people to enter farming, “to plant their seeds, to grow their roots in the community.” Also, “it’s important that we maintain conservative leadership at the Iowa department of ag and in the secretary’s office. I will continue to work with all of my effort to build a brighter future.”
Looking forward to race
Democrat nominee Gannon issued a statement congratulating Naig for securing the Republican nomination. “Thank you, Iowa Democrats, for your continued support. I will continue to work alongside you to earn the vote of every Iowan in November’s election. Congratulations Mike Naig on your nomination. In the months ahead, I look forward to respectful, educated discussions on the issues affecting Iowans, both rural and urban. Iowans deserve nothing less. To the other candidates, thank you for raising the visibility of issues important to all Iowans, like soil health, water quality and selling our products around the world.”
Both candidates say they are excited to continue traveling Iowa to discuss issues that matter to Iowans. They note that now, more than ever, we must advocate for farmers and others who depend on a strong ag economy. The candidates say they’ll work to open more markets for Iowa products, advocate for additional funding for public research, and work to preserve the world’s best soil and improve water quality for all.