The recently-nominated Republican candidate for Secretary of State is stressing “integrity” as the predominant issue in the campaign.

On Monday, the Iowa Republican Party’s central committee picked 43-year-old Mary Ann Hanusa to fill the ballot slot vacated when the Republican who won June’s primary dropped out of the race. “I think this race is very winnable despite the late start,” Hanusa says. “I am eager to get at it.”

Out-going Secretary of State Chet Culver is the Democrat’s nominee for governor. Hanusa’s Democratic opponent is Polk County Auditor Michael Mauro and Hanusa is quickly trying to link both Democrats with an executive pay scandal at a central Iowa job training agency. “I am running for Secretary of State because I want to bring a record of public service that is marked by honesty, integrity and credibility,” Hanusa says. “I want to restore those three ingredients to the Secretary of State position.”

Hanusa says while her opponent, Michael Mauro, has 23 years of experience running elections in Iowa’s largest county, she argues Mauro is tainted by the CIETC scandal because he has relatives who work in the agency and his brother is on the board that runs it. “I believe that every elected official, every office-holder in Iowa and across the nation should be of a level of integrity that is beyond reproach,” Hanusa says. “The appearance of impropriety really has no place in a position as important as Secretary of State.”

Mauro responds by citing what he calls his “pristine” record of running elections. Mauro also says it’s ironic to have his ethics questioned by someone who’s lived in Washington, D.C. for the past five years and just moved back to the state to run for office.

Hanusa grew up in Council Bluffs and has been working as President Bush’s director of personal correspondence. She did similar work for the president’s father when he was president, too, and between that she worked for Senator Chuck Grassley as his southwest Iowa field representative.

Hanusa says while she lived in suburban Washington for the past five years, she still voted in Iowa elections and never lost touch with her Iowa roots. “I am back in my beloved home state that has always been my home,” Hanusa says. “If anyone ever walked into my office at the White House, you didn’t have to guess what state I was from because if you remember the stamp that was printed about 10 years ago for the Iowa sequicentennial that was made into a poster, that hangs on my wall and I’ve got glass ears of corn scattered around the office and it’s very evident that my home is and always will be Iowa.”