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The prospects for a heated race for Texas ag commissioner, including a bit of mudslinging, are high,
Democrats in the running
On the Democratic side, three candidates seek their party's nomination for agriculture commissioner. They include Johnson County cattleman Jim Hogan, Hugh Fitzsimons III of Carrizo Springs, and—hold on to your hat—humorist and folk singer Richard “Kinky” Friedman.
Hogan says he feels he is the only candidate that understands what an agriculture commissioner really does. He says he has been following key state agriculture department officials around and asking a lot of questions in an effort to better understand the needs of the department and the industry. He also plans to visit each of the TDA regional offices to further his education about what improvements need to be made to make the department more responsive to the state's agriculture industry.
A native of San Antonio, Fitzsimons is a rancher on land that has been in his family for four generations, raising bison and cultivating wild honey. A former history teacher, Fitzsimons has based his campaign on meeting Texas’ water needs and coping with climate change, two of the biggest problems he says Texas producers will face in the years ahead.
If the introduction of rocker Ted Nugent as a campaign funds manager, accusations of ethics violations, candidates who seem more concerned about proving they are the most conservative choice rather than focusing on the serious issues facing agriculture, and a high profile endorsement from the state's most famous baseball hero isn't enough to make the upcoming race colorful, how about the entry of a well-known humorist, Kinky Friedman, who has the support of another kind of Texas hero, Texas music legend Willie Nelson?
Kinky Friedman says there should be no question about what he stands for in this election. He cites water shortages, overcrowded prisons, and border security as problems that could be addressed by the legalization of marijuana and the freedom of Texas farmers to grow industrial hemp.
Is he kidding?
Friedman says hardly. He says both Colorado and Washington State lawmakers have paved the way for Texas to solve problems associated with its troubled state budget by legalizing pot and taxing it to raise in excess of $600 million a year, more than the Texas Agriculture Department's annual budget. He says additional relief will be realized because it will largely eliminate the problems associated with border security as it relates to the smuggling of illegal drugs and will also relieve the Texas prison and court system by legalizing an agricultural product that was legal in the United States for nearly 200 years.
Also, Friedman points to the legalization of Texas farmers growing industrial hemp as a way to conserve water as hemp requires considerably less water than cotton, for example.