Austin lobbyist and ethics adviser Trey Blocker announced Wednesday that he is running against Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller in the Republican primary.
“He’s given thousands of dollars to the Texas Democrat Party and been a campaign consultant for liberal Democrats, so I figured he’d file with them,” Miller said. “But I guess that’s what you do when you’re a low-level lobbyist mired in the Capitol swamp.”
Miller has drawn criticism over the three years he’s been in office for divisive social media posts, including tweeting falsehoods and remarks considered insensitive toward women and minority groups; instituting rate hikes for many services his agency provides; taking state-paid trips for personal reasons; and hiring the wife of his longtime political consultant to a new, high-paid position. That woman left the agency after the Statesman began asking questions.
Miller also scrapped an effort this year to introduce a new poison for feral hogs, amid strong opposition from hunters and environmentalists.
Miller said in a statement that he’s surprised Blocker is challenging him as a Republican.
Blocker explained to the American-Statesman that being a lobbyist for the last 10 years, he donated to both Democrats and Republicans “as part of my business.” Blocker said his philosophical views don’t align with Democrats’ and that he has contributed more to Republicans. And during his time as a legislative staffer, Blocker only had Republican bosses, he said.
Blocker said he comes from generations of Texas cattle ranchers and has spent his career “representing agriculture interests, so I know quite a bit about agriculture.”
Miller, a competitive calf roper, was dismissive of Blocker’s agriculture credentials.
“Trey Blocker doesn’t know jack-diddly about Texas agriculture,” Miller added in his statement.