Voting delegates at the Iowa Republican Convention on June 16 will decide their party’s candidate for Iowa secretary of agriculture. The current secretary, Mike Naig, got the most votes in the June 5 primary election, but was three-tenths of a percent short of the 35% needed to win the nomination outright.
Since no candidate in the five-person Republican primary reached the 35% threshold, the party picks a candidate to run against Democrat Tim Gannon, a farmer and former USDA official, in the November election.
These are the unofficial vote totals on the Iowa secretary of state’s website:
• Mike Naig, a native of Cylinder in northwest Iowa, received 30,616 votes, 34.7%
• Dan Zumbach, a farmer from Ryan in northeast Iowa, received 18,841 votes, 21.4%
• Craig Lang, a dairy farmer from Brooklyn in east-central Iowa, received 16,355 votes, 18.6%
• Ray Gaesser, a farmer near Corning in southwest Iowa, received 14,287 votes, 16.2%
• Chad Ingels, a farmer from Randalia in northeast Iowa, received 7,833 votes, 8.9%
The party’s pick for Iowa ag secretary is now in the hands of about 2,000 convention delegates. Any of the five candidates can win. The convention will take place June 16 at the Iowa State Fairgrounds in Des Moines.
Candidates must convince delegates
Naig, age 40, says he’s ready to make his case to convention delegates. “I’m grateful for the widespread support from Iowans across the state,” he says. “We carried 60 counties, received over 30,000 votes, and we outpaced the other candidates in the June 5 primary. I’m excited and ready for the state convention.” Naig was appointed to the state ag secretary post in March by Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds, after longtime Iowa Ag Secretary Bill Northey took a top job with USDA in Washington, D.C.
Lang, who is 67 years old, says he isn’t surprised the race for ag secretary will be decided by party activists. “With five candidates in the running, we all knew it would be difficult to win the primary outright by reaching the 35% threshold,” he says. Lang has served as Iowa Farm Bureau president and is a former Iowa Board of Regents member and former member of the Iowa Economic Development Board.
Zumbach, age 57, came in second in the June 5 primary. He has served as a state senator since 2013, and in this past session of the Iowa Legislature, was chairman of the Senate Ag Committee. Zumbach says, “I’m encouraged by the support I’ve received as I travel the state, meeting with Iowans and listening to their concerns and ideas.”
The other two Republican ag secretary candidates — Gaesser and Ingels — are also each working to make their case known to the delegates at the upcoming Republican state convention. Both are farmers. Gaesser is 65 years old; Ingels is 49.
Gannon’s statement on results
Gannon ran unopposed in the Democratic primary. He issued the following statement the day after the June 5 vote: “Thank you, Iowa Democrats, for your support. It is an honor to serve as your nominee for secretary of agriculture. I will work nonstop to earn the vote of every Iowan in November’s election.”
Gannon added, “I’m excited to continue traveling throughout Iowa to discuss water quality, the importance of the Renewable Fuel Standard, the impact of tariffs and trade uncertainty on our economy, and the importance of developing new markets for our products. If recent trade and tariff proposals and decisions have proven anything, it is that we must never take for granted that politicians in Washington, D.C., understand agriculture’s contributions to the economy. As Iowa secretary of agriculture, I will work to end the recent decline in farm income, and improve the quality of life for rural Iowans.”