Last minute smack-downs in Northey/Thicke race

There have been two competing news releases today from the major party candidates for Iowa Secretary of Agriculture.    Republican Bill Northey, the Republican who is currently Iowa Ag Secretary, is touting the endorsement of Jerry Crawford, a long-time Democratic Party insider.  Francis Thicke, the Democrat challenging Northey, responded, as did former state Representative Ed Fallon, a Democrat who ran for governor in 2006 and who ran against Leonard Boswell in a Democratic Primary in 2008.

The following was issued Monday, November 1 @ 6:53 a.m.


Veteran Democratic Political Insider Jerry Crawford of Des Moines Endorses Northey

DES MOINES – During an appearance on WHO-TV’s “The Insiders,” Veteran Democratic political insider Jerry Crawford endorsed Bill Northey for Iowa Secretary of Agriculture.  This continues Northey’s practice of receiving strong, bipartisan support from leaders across Iowa for his work on behalf of Iowa agriculture.

“I appreciate Jerry’s recognition of the extremely important role agriculture plays not only in our state, but also the world and thank him for his support,” Northey said.

During the show, Crawford stated that, “I’m going to vote for Bill Northey, the Republican for Secretary of Agriculture.  Because first of all agriculture is the most important industry in the state.  A recent Register poll showed that 92% are pleased with agriculture and farmers and Northey has a lot to do with that.  Number two, he is a big supporter of biotechnology and what that can do for the world in terms of nutrition and the environment and health of people… Northey sees the promise of that science and it’s very important.  And, thirdly … he’s done a great job running his office.”

The video of Crawford’s comments can be found on WHO-TV’s website at  The comment’s are available on part two of the Oct. 31st edition of “The Insiders.”

Northey, a corn and soybean farmer from Spirit Lake, is serving his first term as Secretary of Agriculture. His priorities as Secretary of Agriculture are taking advantage of the opportunities available through renewable energy, promoting conservation and stewardship, and telling the story of Iowa agriculture.

The following reply was issued at 12:12 p.m. Monday, November 1.

Thicke campaign not surprised Monsanto lawyer endorsed Northey

DES MOINES, Iowa, November 1, 2010 – Monsanto lobbyist, DeCoster lawyer and political power broker Jerry Crawford’s endorsement of  Republican incumbent Ag Secretary Bill Northey brings key relationships to light that underscore the need to elect an independent thinker like Francis Thicke as Iowa’s top agriculture official, the campaign said today.

Crawford registered as a Washington, D.C. lobbyist for agribusiness giant Monsanto in late 2009, just ahead of U.S. Department of Justice and USDA antitrust hearings in Iowa and four other states, and has already been paid at least $150,000 by the agribusiness giant. Thicke, who has called for Teddy Roosevelt-style trust-busting to break up corporate monopolies and return competition to agricultural markets, said Crawford’s endorsement was no surprise.

“Mr. Crawford is paid by Monsanto to support them in the face of anti-trust investigations, and Mr. Northey seems fine with Monsanto and other agribusiness monopolists calling the shots on seed pricing and farmer practices,” Thicke said. “What is surprising is that Northey would even want Crawford’s backing when other candidates are trying to distance themselves from him.”

Crawford, who also has worked as environmental polluter Jack DeCoster’s lawyer, was the power broker behind political deals that funneled thousands of dollars in DeCoster contributions to Iowa politicians. Crawford owns a racehorse with Pete DeCoster, the principal in Wright County Egg, the Iowa egg laying facility at the center of an August recall of a half-billion Salmonella-contaminated eggs.

After the egg recall, Thicke called for more rigorous, producer-funded egg-egg safety rules requiring vaccinations, regular inspections and testing.

Francis Thicke has been a full-time farmer for 27 years, is a scientist with a Ph.D. in agronomy/soil fertility, and has worked in the past at the USDA in Washington, D.C., where he served as National Program Leader for Soil Science. A frequently consulted national expert on agricultural sustainability, Thicke and his wife, Susan, own and operate an 80-cow organic, grass-based dairy near Fairfield, where they process milk on the farm into bottled milk, yogurt and cheese marketed locally through Fairfield grocery stores and restaurants. For additional information on his campaign for Iowa Secretary of Agriculture, go to

The following statement was emailed at 3:40 p.m.

Fallon critical of leading Democrat’s endorsement of Northey

After learning that one of the Iowa Democratic Party’s top fundraisers, Jerry Crawford, endorsed Republican Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey, former state representative and talk show host Ed Fallon called Crawford to discuss the endorsement.

“Jerry and I have a good rapport, and I spoke with him this afternoon,” said Fallon. “I told him I was surprised and disappointed by his endorsement, and asked for an explanation. I’m pleased that Jerry was willing to speak candidly, but I’m very disturbed at the reasoning behind his decision, and troubled by the Democratic Party’s response.”

According to Fallon, Crawford said he endorsed Northey in part because he has been “very supportive of biotech, which is the best hope for nutrition, environmental progress and health, particularly in the developing world. Biotechnology is hugely important. It’s the dog, organic is the tail, and it’s a mistake to emphasize the tail over the dog.”

Fallon also spoke with Sam Roecker, Communications Director for the Iowa Democratic Party, who told Fallon that anyone is entitled to make any endorsement they want, that there wouldn’t be an official statement, and the incident won’t strain the Party’s relationship with Crawford. “That’s a fair policy,” said Fallon. “Unfortunately, it’s not true. I endorsed a non-Democrat years ago and was thrown off the county central committee and a House committee. The Party’s leniency for high-profile Democrats endorsing whoever they want is only true if that Democrat has ties to big money. And it seems clear to me that Crawford’s support for Northey is based on their mutual connections to  corporate agriculture.”

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About O.Kay Henderson

O. Kay Henderson is the news director of Radio Iowa.