Former state Rep. Tommy Merritt of Longview is the latest Republican to announce his bid for Texas agriculture commissioner.
“After months of canvassing the state, I am flattered and encouraged by the overwhelming support I have received to take this important step,” Merritt said in a statement. “Texas needs an agriculture commissioner who understands what farmers and ranchers are facing in these tough economic times.”
Merritt represented Longview in the Texas House from 1996 to 2010. He joins Austin-based lawyer Eric Opiela, Uvalde Mayor J Allen Carnes and state Rep. Sid Miller in the bid for the Republican nomination to replace Todd Staples, who is running for lieutenant governor.
Merritt’s statement follows state Rep. Brandon Creighton’s announcement Wednesday that he had withdrawn from the race and Miller's decision the same day to enter the race.
Also entering the ag commissioner race this week was Kinky Friedman, the former independent gubernatorial candidate. Friedman said he would run as a Democrat.
Rumors had surfaced in the wake of state Sen. Wendy Davis’ announcement that she would run as a Democratic gubernatorial candidate that Merritt might run for ag commissioner as a Democrat. But Mark Sanders, a Merritt spokesman, said the rumors were unfounded.
“Tommy’s been a lifelong Republican,” he said. “He decided to quash those rumors by making this announcement to make sure everybody knew he was running as a Republican.”