Former District 7 state Rep. Tommy Merritt hopes his tenure in the House translates into statewide votes in his bid for Texas Agriculture Commissioner.

Merritt, 65, was a seven-term state representative, serving from January 1997 to January 2011. He also is the owner of Gregg Industrial Insulators, Inc.

Being a lifetime rancher and farmer qualifies him to represent and work with Texas' agriculturalists, Merritt said.

He said he would build on the work done by Commissioner Todd Staples, who is running for lieutenant governor, and continue modernization of the agency.

Merritt said water and illegal crossings by immigrants and drug smugglers on Texas borderlands would be a focus of his administration. He called for an overhaul of the bureaucracy controlling Texas' water system. He said he would establish a hotline system allowing farmers and ranchers to report illegal crossings in real time.

"It is a great privilege to stand before Texas voters," he said. "I'm going to win, and I will ensure the best days for Texas agriculture – and for Texas as a whole – are yet to come."

Merritt joins a bevy of Republican candidates, including Uvalde mayor and rancher J. Allen Carnes, former state Rep. Sid Miller and attorney and rancher Eric Opiela in the primary. Kinky Friedman has filed to run for the position as a Democrat.

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