Today Sid Miller will become the new Texas Commissioner of Agriculture. However, it's a fair bet that from the moment he is sworn in, Miller will follow the grand tradition of ag commissioners as he starts angling to end up somewhere higher in the political food chain.
Predecessor Todd Staples spent eight years in the office trying to finagle some political traction, mainly by obsessing over the border, but also by railing against things like the introduction of "Meatless Mondays" in Texas school districts and against gay marriage as a sort of side project, as the Texas Observer has noted.
But Staples seemed to believe the border would be his ticket to the office of his dreams, lieutenant governor. He even went out and created a taxpayer-funded website, "Protect Your Texas Border," that got him all kinds of bad press. However, after losing to Dan Patrick, Staples galloped off into the sunset back in September. (Translation: He became president of the Texas Oil & Gas Association after failing to get the GOP nomination for lieutenant governor last March.)
Now we have Miller, who has already said that he's hoping for bigger things. "I think it has everything to do with this race. First of all, it solidifies your Republican credentials. This is a primary race, not a general election. Also, it speaks to a man's character, what's in his heart. And, in past elections, in many cases, the Agriculture Commissioner goes on to higher state office," Miller told the Texas Tribune last February.
Miller didn't have an uneventful campaign season. First, back in 2013 he got the wrong kind of attention for allegations of animal abuse and a complaint filed with the American Quarter Horse Association for tying his horses to the back of his trailer and slowly walking them in circles at a San Antonio show. Then Miller called the Civil War "the war of northern aggression." He also stuck by his campaign treasurer, the one and only Ted Nugent, after the Nuge held forth on things like 9/11 and a couple of other humdinger opinions last year. Miller called these verbal blasts "bobbles."
If he follows through and really starts using the office to try to climb up the political ladder, we're almost guaranteed to be in for an entertaining show. For one thing, he already spent some time in the state legislature, where he was best known for not getting along with members of either party and for authoring House Bill 15, which requires a woman to have a sonogram before getting an abortion.
Plus Miller is known to have a rather caustic personality -- in its endorsement, the Dallas Morning News compared his personality to sandpaper -- which should make his efforts to find issues to get a little political mojo working one of the best shows around.
So while it looks like the Staples show has come to an end, Miller should at least prove to be an entertaining replacement.
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