Sid Miller declares victory in Texas agriculture commissioner race

Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller onstage on the final day of the Texas Republican Convention in San Antonio on June 16, 2018 (Bob Daemmrich For The Texas Tribune, Bob Daemmrich For The Texas Tribune)

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Republican Sid Miller has been reelected as Texas agriculture commissioner, defeating Democratic candidate Susan Hays on Tuesday night in a heated race.

Miller, 67, had a strong show of support across rural Texas, while Hays, 53, had the backing of a few urban counties. This year’s election cycle saw low turnout for early voting compared with 2020 and 2018, and more people waited to vote on Election Day this year.

“I am truly humbled,” Miller said on Twitter on Tuesday night.

This will be Miller’s third term in the role. He was first elected in 2014 and has since been able to stave off being unseated by both Democratic and Republican challengers. During this election cycle, high-ranking Texas Republicans were privately undermining Miller, too.

Miller continued, “Together with the legislature and all of you, we will pass compassionate use, fund our rural healthcare, ban China from buying TX lands, and unleash our resources to meet our water and power needs for the next 100 years!”

Hays conceded Wednesday morning in a statement in which she thanked voters for their support.

“While my campaign is over, the fight to restore integrity at the Department of Agriculture isn’t,” said Hays in the statement. “The fight to expand Medicaid, save rural hospitals, and create a thriving rural economy, isn’t. The fight for sustainable agriculture and rational, safe cannabis laws, including legalization, isn’t.”

Hays said she would continue to advocate for those priorities in the future.

Miller, a De Leon native, lives in Stephenville, where he began his political career as a school board member. He served in the Texas House of Representatives from 2001-13.

As the state agriculture commissioner, Miller conducted Operation Maverick, which investigated more than 7,000 businesses operating with illegal scales, and has overseen the Farm Fresh program, a farm-to-school initiative that has led to schools purchasing $65 million worth of fresh food from local farmers.

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Hays, a longtime rancher and equal rights lawyer, campaigned on a platform of rebuilding rural communities, sustainable agriculture and legalizing cannabis. She said these are still important issues that need to be addressed by state leaders.

Hays questioned Miller’s ethics during the race and said he was not suited for public office. Like Miller’s past opponents, Hays pointed to a list of controversies that include the indictment of his longtime political consultant on charges of theft and bribery in exchange for state hemp licenses. Miller has also been accused of raising taxes and fees on struggling farmers and ranchers and neglecting the job’s essential duties.

The Texas Department of Agriculture promotes rural development, provides financial assistance to farmers and ranchers, and oversees grocery store operations. The agency is also responsible for helping rural hospitals with financial aid and technical assistance through its rural health division.

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