Republican presidential hopeful Nikki Haley has launched a new coalition aimed at lifting Iowa’s rural communities and focusing on issues facing farmers and families.
The Farmers for Nikki Coalition is led by several Iowans who have all endorsed Haley:
- Ray Gaesser, a longtime Corning farmer who previously served as president of both the American Soybean Association and the Iowa Soybean Association.
- Kelly Nieuwenhuis, former president of Siouxland Energy Cooperative, a Sioux Center-based ethanol plant. The Primghar corn and soybean farmer is also part owner of a hog-finishing operation and was once president of the Iowa Corn Promotion Board.
- Mary Boote, a chief executive officer of the Global Farmer Network and a former agriculture adviser to former Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad.
- State Rep. Austin Harris, a Moulton native who works on his family’s cattle farm. He was also deputy chief of staff to U.S. Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks.
- Chris Wehrman, former CEO of the National Corn Growers Association.
Gaesser, the coalition’s chairman, said in a statement he believes the nation’s next president must be strong — someone who can “lead with balance” and “influence and guide with our American values, domestically and abroad.” And, that’s Haley, he said, touting her experience as a former governor of South Carolina and U.S. ambassador to the United Nations.
He and Haley’s Iowa Political Director Billy Mackey also pointed to her personal life.
Haley on the campaign trail has shared fond memories of growing up in rural South Carolina — a town that has around 2,500 people and two stoplights. She has often joked: “You couldn’t think about doing something wrong without somebody telling your mom.”
Haley has publicly spoken about her support for Iowa farmers and renewable energy and warned against Chinese entities taking over U.S. farmland. She’s told voters that the nation’s largest pork producer, Smithfield Foods, has been owned by a Chinese firm for a decade. Headquartered in Virginia, Smithfield Foods has packing facilities around the country, including in Iowa.
“Like many Iowans, Nikki grew up in a small, rural town where faith, family, and farming were always top of mind. Here in Iowa, we’re seeing Communist China infiltrate our agriculture industries, and no one is better suited to combat that threat than Nikki Haley,” Mackey said in a statement. “She knows that Iowa farmers feed and fuel the world and will always have their backs.”
In September, Haley held three events, including a town hall and roundtable event with local agriculture leaders, in rural Grand Mound.
During the town hall event, which drew in a 300-plus audience, she told hundreds of potential caucusgoers: “Don’t forget food security is national security.”
Haley’s campaign continues to bolster support as her candidacy rises in the polls, emerging as one of two top alternatives to former President Donald Trump. Haley in recent weeks has been a target for both Trump and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis.
Haley, whose campaign also recently opened its first headquarters in Clive and beefed up staff, is also one of five candidates who qualified for Wednesday’s third Republican presidential debate in Miami.
An October Des Moines Register/NBC News/Mediacom Iowa Poll showed 16% of Iowa’s Republican caucusgoers named Haley as their first choice for president — tying DeSantis, who has long held second place behind Trump.
Trump still remains the dominant challenger in the shrinking pool of GOP candidates, garnering the support of 43% of Iowa Republican caucusgoers, according to the poll.