Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller wants Travis County Republican Party Chairman Matt Mackowiak to resign his post after joining the campaign of Miller’s primary opponent Trey Blocker as a communications consultant.
“How in the world can the Travis County Republican Party guarantee an impartial election process, when the person in charge of the election is working for one of the candidates?” Miller said in a statement Wednesday. “I have been a Republican all my life and I have never seen such a blatant conflict of interest. I am calling on Matt Mackowiak to resign immediately as Travis County GOP chair or quit his campaign job. He cannot do both.”
Mackowiak denied Miller’s charge of partiality in an emailed statement.
“The position of chairman of the Travis County GOP is an honor and a privilege to hold, but it is also voluntary and unpaid,” said Mackowiak, who served in several party roles before being elected county party chairman. “There is no conflict of interest in my duties as chairman and with my profession, which is separate. I will again promise to be completely impartial for all Republican campaigns through my duties as TCRP chairman.”
Mackowiak added that another official is “running the primary.”
“I appointed Michael Morris to be primary administrator several months ago and he is running the primary as a full-time responsibility,” he said. “As an organization, TCRP is neutral in all primaries, helps all campaigns in whatever way they request, and makes opportunities equally available to all candidates.”
Blocker jabbed Miller for making an issue of Mackowiak’s position with his campaign.
“Sid’s attack on my highly qualified campaign staff is an effort to divert attention from a data breach at the Department of Agriculture that has placed over 700 Texas families at risk — again demonstrating his incompetency at running that agency,” Blocker said in a statement, referring to an October data breach involving a Texas Department of Agriculture employee’s laptop.
Miller will face Blocker, a former Austin lobbyist and ethics adviser, in the March 6 Republican primary. The winner will face Democrat Kim Olson in the general election.