Earlier this week, I sat down for an on-camera chat with Texas Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples. Staples is one of the four heavyweight candidates for the lieutenant governorship in Texas, including the incumbent David Dewhurst. Constitutionally, the Texas lieutenant governor is granted great power, more than any other elected official in the state. The Republican primary for lieutenant governor is expected to be the most competitive race in Texas in 2014.
I caught up with Staples fresh from his statewide bus tour, which has taken him all over the huge state. I asked him about that tour and about other issues facing the state. There were no rules for our interview, no pre-approved questions, nothing was set out of bounds in any way.
Staples called the reception of his statewide bus tour “refreshing,” adding that Texans are telling him that “the Texas spirit is alive and well, and we’re not ready to hand the keys over to a liberal element that wants to grow government and provide government solutions” to all issues. That liberal element would be the Obama-connected Battleground Texas, and its allies at the Lone Star Project, Texans for Public Justice and other Democratic front groups. And, frankly, the mainstream media.
Staples touted his record as Texas agriculture commissioner, a position from which he oversees one of the state’s key industries.
“As I have served as commissioner of agriculture, we’ve cut waste,” he said. “I’ve worked with the legislature to abolish agencies. We’ve moved those functions to the Department of Agriculture. We’ve delivered them at lower cost, and with fewer number of employees.”
He addressed the competitiveness of the lieutenant governor’s race, saying that “competition makes us all better and it gives the voters a clear picture of who they’re voting for and what they’re gonna do.”
“I really think this race is about two things,” Staples said. “It’s about leadership and it’s about results.” Among Staples’ results, he says he has stood up for landowners against government eminent domain, has championed statutory reform, and has stood up “against the Obama administration when they tried to impose job-killing EPA mandates on Texas.” He added that he also stood up against the Obama administration when it declared, despite the evidence, that the border with Mexico is safer than ever.
The lack of security along the Texas-Mexico border is probably Staples’ strongest issue. He possesses a very detailed knowledge of the security situation on the ground, having commissioned a military assessment of the border zone. He assailed the Obama administration’s handling of it, as he also does in his book, Broken Borders, Broken Promises. Staples, a former rancher himself, says that farmers and ranchers on the border routinely deal with incursions across the border and are even “chased off of their own property,” prompting me to ask him about an incident the previous weekend in which Texas Department of Safety officers apparently caught and then released nearly two dozen suspected illegal aliens crossing a Texas ranch.
Watch our exclusive interview to hear Staples’ ideas on securing the border.
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Staples also discusses gun control and President Obama’s politicizing of the Navy Yard massacre, the recently concluded Texas legislative sessions, the fight over the abortion bill, and the candidacy of Democratic state Sen. Wendy Davis, among other issues.