Race for Iowa Ag Secretary Tightens

Governor, Congress, Legislature - there are a lot of big races to watch in the upcoming elections. One you might not be paying as much attention to is Iowa Secretary of Agriculture. That's despite ads running on social media or TV.

While Republican Mike Naig and Democrat Tim Gannon have different methods in mind, big picture the two have similar goals. They want to increase farm profitability, promote ag careers, improve water and soil quality and ensure fair trade of Iowa's commodities.

The biggest difference in Naig's eyes, his experience. Since 2013, the incumbent worked under the previous secretary, Bill Northey, who left for a federal post. Naig was then appointed to the position himself by Governor Kim Reynolds, earlier this year.

"I've got the experience of already working to advocate for our farmers," said Naig. "Having led trade missions around the world. Having received trade delegations from other parts of the world. That's experience that is really important."

Naig has earned endorsements from the Iowa Pork Producers, Iowa Corn Growers, the Iowa Farm Bureau, Iowa Cattlemen and more. He's also nabbed a label from his opponent, a "corporate lobbyist" that "Iowa can't afford."

Gannon, a former USDA employee, is painting himself as someone outside the influence of D.C. and big business. He's said Naig can tout his experience all he wants but Gannon believes it shows the secretary isn't protecting farmers from bad policy, pointing to the trade war with China.

"I will stand up for Iowa's farmers and Iowa's economy, no matter who is in power in Washington D.C," Gannon said. "I don't think Mike Naig, Kim Reynolds or any other Republican officials are doing that right now."

While there isn't much for polling for in this race, fundraising can be an indicator of a candidate's level of support. Based on dollars contributed, Naig and Gannon appeared to be locked in a dead heat, days before the election. Only about $18,000 separates the two. Naig raised $378,486 and Gannon raised $360,972.69, according to the latest finance info from last month.

Historically, Iowa has had about two times as many Republican ag secretaries as Democrats since the position was created back in the 1920s.