40 percent of state ag commissioners may change
Following Tuesday’s elections, as many as 21 of the nation’s agriculture commissioners may change, the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture said late Wednesday as it released a graphic to explain its membership.
There are 54 state agricultural officials who belong to NASDA including elected and appointed commissioners, secretaries and directors of the departments of agriculture in all 50 states and four U.S. territories.
Of the 54 members, 12 are in elected positions and 42 are in positions appointed by their state’s governor.
New commissioners were elected Tuesday in Alabama, Florida and Iowa, while 18 states elected new governors, including eight who represent a switch in political party.
In Alabama, Republican Rick Pate won a GOP primary runoff in July for agriculture commissioner, and there was no Democratic candidate for the position on the ballot Tuesday.
Pate, a Charolais cattle breeder and farmer, also owns a landscaping business and has been mayor of Lowndesboro, Ala., since 1997.
In Florida, Republican State Rep. Matt Caldwell declared himself the winner of the agriculture commissioner’s race on Tuesday against Democrat Nikki Fried. But on Wednesday the Florida Democratic Party announced there would be recount in the race to succeed Adam Putnam, a former congressman who ran for the Republican nomination for governor but lost.
In Iowa, Republican Mike Naig was elected agriculture secretary, winning 50 percent of the vote while Democrat Tim Gannon won 47 percent of the vote and Libertarian Rick Stewart got 3 percent, the Des Moines Register reported.
Iowa Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds had appointed Naig to the position in March after longtime secretary Bill Northey stepped down to become the agriculture undersecretary for farm production and conservation. Before that Naig, a fourth-generation farmer, served five years as Iowa’s deputy ag secretary.
In eight states, new governors will appoint their chief agriculture official. In Illinois, Kansas, Maine, Michigan, Nevada, New Mexico, and Wisconsin, the governorship switched to Democrats while in Alaska it switched to a Republican.
In another 10 states the incoming governors are members of the same party as the current governor and may choose new chief agriculture officials or opt to keep those already in office.