Georgia 2022: Tyler Harper is running for agriculture commissioner

Feb. 24 2017 - Atlanta - Senator Tyler Harper presents SB 160. The senate passed SB 160, the “Back the Badge Act of 2017”, which expands the definition of assault/battery on-duty law enforcement officers, including a new mandatory sentence requirement. It also adds juveniles to the list of those who can be penalized. The 24th day of the Georgia General Assembly. BOB ANDRES /BANDRES@AJC.COM
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Feb. 24 2017 - Atlanta - Senator Tyler Harper presents SB 160. The senate passed SB 160, the “Back the Badge Act of 2017”, which expands the definition of assault/battery on-duty law enforcement officers, including a new mandatory sentence requirement. It also adds juveniles to the list of those who can be penalized. The 24th day of the Georgia General Assembly. BOB ANDRES /BANDRES@AJC.COM

Credit: Bob Andres

Credit: Bob Andres

Republican state Sen. Tyler Harper launched his campaign Tuesday for agriculture commissioner with an emphasis on his family’s deep roots in farming and a pledge to keep “liberal Washington, D.C. policies out of Georgia.”

The Ocilla legislator is the first prominent Republican in the race to succeed incumbent Gary Black, who is running for the U.S. Senate after three terms as the state’s top agriculture official.

Harper’s kickoff focuses on his background as a seventh-generation farmer who was elected to the state Senate in 2012, where he carved out a conservative record and was an advocate of measures that sought to expand gun rights.

“I’ll stand up to foreign competitors,” Harper said in his announcement video. “Stand up to those who want to change our way of life. And I’ll protect Georgia values. Defending our farmers from bad policies.”

The contest to shape agriculture policy – Georgia’s top industry – is one of several competitive down-ticket races in a 2022 election cycle that’s fast solidifying. Will Bentley, a cattle farmer and president of the Georgia Agribusiness Council, is another potential GOP candidate for the seat.

Democrat Nakita Hemingway, who lost a suburban Gwinnett County legislative race last year, is also in the running.

The victor will lead an agriculture department that’s charged with marketing the state’s products, overseeing food safety measures, monitoring animal diseases and regulating farm products.

Harper, who is close with former U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue, is expected to make what his aides say is a significant investment in his campaign. He’s also eager to remind voters of his south Georgia background in a state power structure that’s increasingly tilted toward metro Atlanta.

“For me, being a farmer is more than just a job— it’s a way of life,” he said. “As Agriculture Commissioner, I will use my background, experience, and record of results to fight for our farmers, the consumer, our conservative values and our way of life here in Georgia.”

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