Iowa Secretary races: One late-running primary makes history, the other remains unsettled

DeJear is first black major party nominee for statewide seat; ag race still unsettled

Deidre DeJear
Deidre DeJear

DES MOINES — Hours after the polls closed and results finally were tabulated in two of Tuesday’s statewide primary races, one has made history and the other will go to a state convention to sort out.

Deidre DeJear won the Democratic primary for Iowa Secretary of State, making state history as the first black major party nominee for statewide office.

DeJear edged Jim Mowrer in a close election. DeJear received 51.1 percent of the vote and Mowrer, a previous candidate for Congress, got 48.8 percent.

DeJear, a 32-year-old small-business owner from Des Moines, will face Republican incumbent Paul Pate in November’s general election.

“I am so humbled and honored by last night’s results. We did it,” DeJear said in a statement issued Wednesday by her campaign. “I am ready to roll up my sleeves one more time and get back to work. My vision for this office — where all voters have equal access to the ballot box and our elections are fair and accessible to all — is one that I know we all share.”

In the other late-running primary — the five-man race for the Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Republican nomination, appears to be headed for resolution at the party’s state convention.

Appointed incumbent Mike Naig received the most votes in Tuesday’s primary, but not enough to clinch the nomination.


Naig barely did not get the required 35 percent of the vote to earn his party’s nomination, according to unofficial results. He received 34.7 percent, beating out state Sen. Dan Zumbach from Ryan, who finished with 21.4 percent.

If those results hold once the official results are tallied, state law requires the political party to select its nominee at its state convention.

The official results will be published after each county completes its verification of vote counts on Monday or Tuesday. The GOP state convention is scheduled for June 16 at the Iowa State Fairgrounds.

At the convention, delegates elected by fellow party members will vote for the nominee. Any of the candidates in the race could win.

In the unofficial results, Naig and Zumbach were followed by former Iowa Farm Bureau leader Craig Lang at 18.6 percent, Ray Gaesser at 16.2 percent and Chad Ingels at 8.9 percent.

Naig, in a statement issued Wednesday by his campaign, celebrated winning 60 counties and beating the field by more than 13 points.

“Last night Iowa Republican voters sent a clear message they are very pleased with the direction we’ve been leading Iowa agriculture, and I am grateful for that support across the state,” Naig said. “If this does head to convention, I am excited and prepared, and I look forward to continue working hard to move Iowa agriculture forward.”

The five candidates got in the race after former Secretary Bill Northey was appointed to a position in the federal ag department. Northey had held the post since 2007.

Gov. Kim Reynolds appointed Naig, a former deputy state ag secretary, to replace Northey in March.


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Tim Gannon, a former aide to Tom Vilsack while Vilsack served as governor and in the federal ag department, is the lone Democrat in the race. He will face the Republican nominee in the general election. If elected, he would be the state’s first Democratic ag secretary since Patty Judge served from 1999 through 2006.

“While Republicans determine their nominee, I will be speaking to all Iowans on the importance of agriculture to our state, and how agriculture can help revitalize rural Iowa,” Gannon said Wednesday in a statement. “Iowans deserve an educated debate on these pressing issues and I look forward to a respectful campaign in the months ahead.”

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