The man who’s been Iowa’s secretary of agriculture since March found out early this morning he will have to convince delegates at the Republican Party’s state convention to nominate him for the November ballot.

Mike Naig was appointed to the post after Bill Northey resigned to take a job in the Trump Administration. Unofficial returns from all 99 counties were tabulated shortly after 1 a.m.,  showing Naig finished a quarter-of-a-percent short of the 35 percent support he needed from primary voters to earn the GOP’s nomination for ag secretary.

“We feel like Republicans sent a pretty clear message that they are pleased with direction that we’re going right now and the job that I’m doing as secretary, so I’m grateful for that support,” Naig said during a mid-morning interview with Radio Iowa. “If you look at the outcomes, we won in 60 counties. We topped 30,000 votes.”

Republican Congressman David Young was the last major General Election candidate chosen at a nominating convention. Those delegates did not choose the primary winner and, instead, picked Young, who finished fifth in the primary. Naig said he’ll take nothing for granted as this race moves to another phase.

“It’s important to obviously note the support that we had across the state on (Primary) Election Day. I think that’s an important factor…but in a lot of ways, things start over when you go to convention and we’ve got to earn the support of those delegates and we were working hard to earn that support over the last several weeks,” Naig said, “and with renewed effort here this morning.”

Naig will face competition at the nominating convention from the four other Republicans are were running for the post. State Senator Dan Zumbach, a farmer from Ryan, was the second-place finisher in the primary, with just over a fifth of the vote. Former Iowa Farm Bureau president Craig Lang of Brooklyn finished in third and, in a written statement issued early this morning, Lang vowed to make a “strong case” to convention delegates that he has statewide appeal.

Ray Gaesser, a farmer from Corning who finished fourth. Gaesser told Radio Iowa early this morning he had already called each of the 1600 delegates to the Republican state convention. Chad Ingels of Randalia finished in fifth with a little less than nine percent of the primary vote.