Ballotpedia’s Daily Brew: Will you be our valentine?

Here’s what’s in store for you as you start your day:

  1. Will you be our valentine?
  2. Incumbent and two challengers running in Republican primary for Texas Commissioner of Agriculture
  3. Early voting begins today in Texas primaries

Will you be our valentine?

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Incumbent and two challengers running in Republican primary for Texas Commissioner of Agriculture

Last week, we looked at the candidates running for Texas Attorney General in the March 1 primary. Today, we continue our look at Texas statewide races with a preview of the Republican primary for state agriculture commissioner.

Three candidates are running in the Republican primary election for Texas Commissioner of Agriculture on March 1, 2022. Incumbent Sid Miller and James White lead in fundraising, endorsements, and media attention.

Miller was first elected agriculture commissioner in 2014 and won re-election in 2018. He represented District 59 in the Texas House of Representatives from 2001 to 2013. Former President Donald Trump (R) endorsed Miller, calling him an “early fighter for our America First agenda.” 

White, who has represented District 19 in the Texas House of Representatives since 2011, said, “I am running for Ag Commissioner because I am a proven conservative who will restore integrity to this crucial agency that oversees over $115 billion in annual economic impact to our state.” The Houston Chronicle endorsed him.

According to Sparber, “White is campaigning as an ethics-focused foil to Miller, taking digs at the incumbent’s past controversies. […] More recently, a political consultant for Miller was arrested in an alleged scheme to sell access to hemp licenses, which are issued by Miller’s department.”

Miller responded, saying his opponents were spreading rumors to damage his reputation: “The penalty is the process. All they need is some kind of headline. … They’re trying to confuse people with misinformation, paint me in a bad light. It’s not going to work. People know me. I’ve got a stellar record as your Ag Commissioner.” He also said that White “doesn’t know anything about the agency.”

Southern Methodist University political science professor Cal Jillson said, “Miller has the facility for getting himself in difficult situations, in terms of both politics and ethics. … He’s the likely favorite, but he’s not invulnerable.”

Miller also faced two opponents in the 2018 primary, winning with 56% of the vote to Jim Hogan’s 23% and Trey Blocker’s 22%.

Carey Counsil, an economics professor and rancher, is also running in the primary.

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Early voting begins today in Texas primaries

Speaking of Texas, early voting in the Texas primary starts today, making Texas the first state in the 2022 election cycle to open the polls. 

This year, 44 states and the District of Columbia offer some form of no-excuse early voting, meaning that any eligible voter can vote early, in person, without being required to cite an approved excuse. Early voting is sometimes referred to as in-person absentee voting. Six states do not offer no-excuse early voting: Alabama, Connecticut, Mississippi, Missouri, New Hampshire, and South Carolina. 

In the last midterm election cycle (2018), 37 states offered some form of no-excuse early voting. In the 2018 general election, approximately 16.2 million Americans cast their ballots early in person, representing about 19.5 percent of total turnout, according to the United States Elections Project.  

No additional states are scheduled to open early voting periods until April. In April, six states will begin early voting: Indiana and Ohio on April 5, Nebraska on April 11, South Dakota on April 23, West Virginia on April 27, and North Carolina on April 28. 

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