Like many Donald Trump supporters, Sid Miller didn’t get any sleep on Tuesday night.
The Texas agriculture commissioner watched as state after state proved him right over the pundits and polls that said Donald Trump would lose.
Unlike many Trump supporters, Miller suited up on Wednesday morning for a rodeo in Fort Worth with his son, where he came in fourth place in a cattle-roping competition.
The 61-year-old Miller, described by allies and foes as “colorful,” could see his fervent support of Trump rewarded with a seat in Trump’s Cabinet as secretary of agriculture. But his 16-year political career is marked with with controversies that could make his appointment tricky.
Miller, a fiscal conservative, drew the ire of the Texas Farm Bureau after hiking fees for farmers in 2015, doled out record bonuses to the state agriculture agency and recently had criminal charges dropped for using state funds to take trips to Oklahoma and Mississippi.
“I’ve always been very anti-establishment,” Miller said. “I’m actually kind of in the mold of Trump, in many ways.”
Miller, who served in the Texas Legislature for 13 years, spearheaded a law that requires women seeking abortions to receive sonograms that include audio of the fetuses’ heartbeats. His efforts with Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, another devoted Trump supporter, were lampooned in “Doonesbury,” a popular comic strip.
But Miller, who frequently sports a white cowboy hat, is well-positioned to assume some role in Trump’s administration, especially if the president-elect wants to drain Washington’s “swamp.”
“Miller was an early Trump supporter in a state where the favorite son (U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz) did not make the final cut,” said Todd Smith, Miller’s longtime political consultant. “Miller, in the weeks leading up to the election, was on Fox News multiple times, being interviewed by multiple media outlets and Rush Limbaugh about his prophetic predictions and assertions that the polls were wrong.”
Smith said Miller’s disdain for “political correctness” was massively appealing to Trump, even if it landed him in hot water. Miller once said he would slap the next person who said “happy holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas” to him and said on Facebook he would nuke the Middle East.
“I don’t think Commissioner Miller has said anything in regards to Middle East policy or immigration that isn’t a sentiment expressed by Donald Trump,” Smith said. “There’s a great deal of synergy between some of the things Miller has been vocal about and Donald Trump.”
Early this month, Miller earned national attention after he sent a tweet calling Hillary Clinton the c-word – he later blamed the tweet on staff and deleted it. “Commissioner Miller doesn’t even know the passwords to his Twitter account,” Smith said, saying the offending tweet had been inadvertently copied and pasted by a staffer without Miller’s knowledge.
But on some critical policy issues, Miller appears to be at odds with his potential boss.
When asked what he would do differently as secretary of agriculture, Miller pointed to increasing trade with Cuba – something Trump publicly said he didn’t want to do – and drastically overhauling the North American Free Trade Agreement.
Smith said Miller was the only sitting agriculture commissioner being considered for the Trump post and that his legislative experiences touched on all of Trump’s signature issues.
“Miller comes to this not only as the only currently elected ag commissioner on the shortlist, he also brings a rich history of being involved on legislative issues,” Smith said. “On border security . . . the Texas Department of Public Safety deployed their gunboats on the Rio Grande River, and he was the author of the sonogram bill, which was one of the landmark pieces of pro-life legislation passed in the last 10 years.”
Miller has the support of the Texas Farm Bureau, a powerful force in state politics, despite its opposition to his fee increases.
“He advocates for agriculture and speaks out for things we don’t like in Washington,” bureau spokesman Gene Hall said. “In particular the overregulation by the EPA. I think we could count on a friend who would help us do something about the severe overregulation.”
Smith said Miller would be a large presence in Washington, drawing necessary attention to critical policy issues like immigration and trade while maintaining his outsized personality.
“Just the white hat alone would be an attention grabber,” Smith said.
Miller was mentioned by name on the campaign trail multiple times by Trump, symbolizing his potential ascension into Trump’s White House staff.
When Trump addressed the polls during a rally in Las Vegas, he drew attention to a “great guy on television today.”
“His name was Sid Miller from Texas,” Trump said, as cheers rang out at the mention.
“Oh, they know Sid Miller,” Trump continued, sounding surprised. “We create yet another star.”