Depending on who you talk to, the prospects for a heated race for ag commissioner are high, perhaps not as heated as the race for governor between Gregg Abbott and Wendy Davis, but one that may see some mudslinging.

The favored candidates for the ag post include, without question, the five Republicans vying for the office. But even among this group, a great deal of color may be found. The Republican candidates include Uvalde Mayor J. Allen Carnes, Joe Cotten of Plano, former state Reps. Tommy Merritt of Kilgore and Sid Miller of Stephenville, and Austin attorney Eric Opiela.

Carnes owns Winter Garden Produce in Uvalde, which grows and ships produce around the state. He recently received a major endorsement from baseball great Nolan Ryan, himself a strong Republican supporter who not so long ago hinted at making a run for the office as well. Possibly working against him, however, is Carnes’ past history as a Democratic Party supporter. But he says he has also supported Republicans in various elections and in most recent races.

Also running for the Republican nomination is former Texas Railroad Commissioner Joe Cotten of Plano. He calls himself the most conservative of the candidates and says he stands up against 'Obamanites' and is for a strong Constitution, according to his web site. Cotten is running a lightly funded, completely self-financed campaign.

Former State Rep. Tommy Merritt of Kilgore calls himself a lifelong conservative job creator. As a small business owner, he claims to have created over 1,000 new. He says he has a four-point plan on how to improve agriculture, including building on what he termed the good work of Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples.

Sid Miller raises horses and prides himself in sponsoring the movement to strip Planned Parenthood of Texas of $21 million in an effort to stop abortions as part of his Right To Life campaign as a state representative. He has served six terms in the Texas House, but was accused of making loans to his campaigns and charging interest, a violation of state election laws.

Miller has admitted he loaned money to his campaign fund with interest. He also has been accused of potential discrepancies in his reports concerning stock purchases. A spokesman for Miller says the accusations are being wielded by fellow candidate J. Allen Carnes and has no merit. Miller is, however, under investigation by the Texas Ethics Commission.

Miller has also been under fire for the recent appointment of controversial rocker and outspoken hunter and ultra-conservative Ted Nugent to handle his campaign funds. Nugent came under fire and received a visit from the Secret Service in 2012 for allegedly threatening President Obama.

Last, but not least of the Republicans seeking nomination to run for Texas ag commissioner, is attorney, rancher and Tea Party favorite Eric Opiela of Karnes City. He says he is running because the agriculture industry is under assault from radical environmentalists and government bureaucrats who want to impose regulations aimed at infringing on private property rights.