Conventional vs. Organic: An Ag Secretary Race to Watch

Where the Race Stands

According to the most recent financial statements available, Northey has out-fundraised Thicke $273,590 to $60,772 in 2010—and the current difference is likely greater. But while the Thicke campaign gathers momentum—the race was within the margin of error in a recent poll conducted by his campaign—he will probably face a negative media blitz in the final days of the election. "No doubt the industry will throw a lot of money against him in the final days," Pollan said, "as they did against Denise O'Brien, four years ago." In that election, the Northey camp ads—complete with sinister slasher-movie music—branded O'Brien a "radical" with a "fringe agenda." Already, the Northey campaign has shown the financial wherewithal to air TV spots in Iowa. The Thicke camp has produced a TV ad, but cannot yet afford air time for it.

With only days left until the election, no clear victor in sight, and enormous differences in policy at stake, the Thicke/Northey battle for the nation's agriculture capital rages on. For anyone interested in food or farming, this hotly-contested race is the one to watch in 2010.

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Joe Fassler is a writer based in Brooklyn. His fiction has appeared in The Boston Review, and he regularly interviews authors for The Lit Show. In 2011, his reporting for TheAtlantic.com was a finalist for a James Beard Foundation Award in Journalism.

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