Todd Staples

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Douglas Todd Staples
11th Texas Agriculture Commissioner
In office
January 4, 2007[1] – November 16, 2014
GovernorRick Perry
Preceded bySusan Combs
Succeeded bySid Miller
Member of the Texas Senate
from the 3rd district
In office
January 9, 2001 – January 4, 2007
Preceded byDrew Nixon
Succeeded byRobert Nichols
Member of the Texas House of Representatives
from the 11th district
In office
February 17, 1995 – January 9, 2001
Preceded byElton Bomer
Succeeded byChuck Hopson
Member of the Palestine City Council
In office
Personal details
Born (1963-08-24) August 24, 1963 (age 59)
Anderson County, Texas, US
Political partyRepublican
  • unknown – divorced.
  • Janet Wendel Staples née Thorn (1994-present)
Alma materTexas A&M University
OccupationReal estate, ranching

Douglas Todd Staples (born August 24, 1963)[2] is the former two-term Texas Commissioner of Agriculture. He did not seek reelection in 2014 but instead unsuccessfully sought the Republican nomination for lieutenant governor.

Prior to his election in 2006 as agriculture commissioner, Staples had served as a Republican in both houses of the Texas State Legislature and in a nonpartisan position on the city council in Palestine in Anderson County, Texas.

Staples was unopposed for renomination in the GOP primary held on March 2, 2010. In the November 2 general election, he handily defeated the populist Democrat Hank Gilbert (born 1959) of Whitehouse and the Libertarian Party choice, Rick Donaldson of Rockwall County. Gilbert had also lost to Staples in 2006.

On September 18, 2014, Staples announced that he would resign by mid-November to become president of the Texas Oil & Gas Association, following a controversy surrounding his views on a "Meatless Monday" campaign being adopted by some Texas schools.[3]


Staples was reared in Palestine, the seat of government of his native Anderson County in East Texas. He graduated from Palestine High School, where he was an active member of the Future Farmers of America. While in college, he served from 1981 to 1982 as state vice-president of the FFA. He attended Texas A&M University in College Station and graduated magna cum laude in 1984 with a Bachelor of Science in Agricultural Economics.[4] He started a plant nursery and later became involved in cattle ranching with his family. He also owned a real estate business. For a time, he was an instructor at Trinity Valley Community College in Palestine.

Staples has two adult children from his first marriage, which ended in divorce.[5] His son, Jared Cole Staples (born 1987), is an attorney who was worked for the governor's office in Austin, and his daughter, Elizabeth Ann Staples (born 1989) resides in Denver, Colorado. His second wife is the former Janet Wendel (born c. 1953), a daughter of Laura Linder Wendel (1928-2001) and Frank Lee Wendel (1924-2011), a native of Falls County and resident of Madisonville in Madison County, a long-term employee of Lone Star Gas Company, and a decorated soldier in World War II. From her first marriage to Terry Maurice Thorn (born 1951) of Palestine, Janet Staples has two sons, Brian Walker Thorn (born 1979) and Jonathan Clarke Thorn (born 1982). These are Todd Staples' stepsons.[6]

Staples is a Southern Baptist deacon in his local church.

Political career[edit]

Staples served on the non-partisan Palestine City Council from 1989 to 1991. In February 1995, he was elected to the Texas House of Representatives District 11 seat in a special election to replace Elton Bomer, who had been appointed state insurance commissioner by newly elected Governor George W. Bush. In a contest against two Democrats, Staples avoided a runoff by about sixty votes, having collected 50.6 percent of the vote.

In 2000, Staples entered the race for the District 3 seat in the Texas Senate, vacated by Drew Nixon. Despite personal scandal surrounding Nixon, Staples held the seat for the Republican Party, having received more than 60 percent of the vote in the general election. He represented Anderson, Angelina, Cherokee, Hardin, Henderson, Jasper, Nacogdoches, Newton, Polk, Sabine, San Augustine, San Jacinto, Shelby and Tyler counties, and portions of Montgomery and Smith counties.

In the Senate, Staples was the chairman of the Transportation & Homeland Security Committee, the Workers Compensation Select Interim Committee and the Texas Senate Republican Caucus. Staples sponsored and helped to pass a state constitutional amendment defining marriage as between one man and one woman. He was the vice-chair of the State Affairs Committee and the Veteran Affairs & Military Installations Committee.

Staples was unopposed for the Republican nomination for Agriculture Commissioner in 2006 when the incumbent Susan Combs instead was elected Texas Comptroller to succeed Carole Strayhorn. Staples defeated Democrat Hank Gilbert and Libertarian Clay Woolam in the November 7, 2006, general election. He received 2,307,406 votes (54.77 percent), a margin of 547,000 votes over Gilbert.[7]

In 2010, Staples ran for re-election as Agriculture Commissioner and won with more than 60 percent of the votes, again against Democrat Hank Gilbert.[8]

On June 5, 2013, Staples addressed the 25th annual conference of the North American Agricultural Biotechnology Council held in College Station. In the keynote address Staples said that the American public has little understanding of what is physically required to produce the needed food and fiber because shelves in grocery stores are always full. He claimed that many fail to understand the importance of agriculture to Texas, which has the largest population of rural citizens in the nation and leads in the production of both beef and cotton. Such misunderstanding, he added, can during times of drought lead to conflict between municipalities and agricultural producers over the available water resources. While water usage declined by 40 percent between 1974 and 2010, the output of cattle, cotton, and corn has doubled since 1960, he noted.[4]

Staples explained that in his role as commissioner he is compelled to tell the story of agricultural success: "It's up to us to engage with consumers because we know there are those who do not appreciate the work that's being done and what that means for available and affordable food supply."[4]

On September 18, Staples announced his resignation to become the president of the Texas Oil & Gas Association.

2014 primary for lieutenant governor[edit]

Though Staples enlisted baseball great Nolan Ryan as his campaign chairman, he finished third in the primary for lieutenant governor with 235,981 votes (17.8 percent).[9] Voters set forth a runoff for the position between the three-term incumbent David Dewhurst of Houston, who trailed the top votegetter, State Senator Dan Patrick, also of Houston. In fourth place was the outgoing commissioner of the Texas General Land Office, Jerry E. Patterson, a former state senator who had also run against Dewhurst for land commissioner in the 1998 Republican primary; Dewhurst won that round, but Patterson succeeded Dewhurst as land commissioner in 2002, when Dewhurst was first elected lieutenant governor.

At a gathering in College Station in January 2014, Staples cited his experience at both the municipal and state levels of government and his support for the Texas constitutional amendment to define marriage as between one man and one woman. Staples said that most politicians "are not listening to the people of this country. That's the reason our nation has gone a different direction and left our values and left where we are."[10] Major League Baseball great Nolan Ryan worked in the Staples campaign.

Staples said that had he been elected lieutenant governor, he would not have compromised his conservative views. He claimed on the anniversary of the War on Poverty, launched by another Texan, Lyndon B. Johnson, that the program has created "a sense of entitlement that should frighten each of us because that's not what the American dream is all about."[10]

Staples outlined a six-point plan to reform Texas immigration, with an emphasis on border security but no amnesty. Staples said that as agriculture commissioner he has found funding to place cameras connected to cellphones at strategic locations along the border. This action undertaken from 2012 to 2014, he said, netted some 21,000 illegal aliens and 47 tons of narcotics.[10]

Left in the runoff to succeed Staples as the Republican nominee for agriculture commissioner were former State Representatives Sid Miller of Stephenville and Tommy Merritt of Longview, who finished first and second, respectively, in the March 4 primary. Eliminated from the race were Eric Opelia, a former executive director of the Texas Republican Party from Austin and Karnes City, Joe Cotten of Frisco, and J. Allen Carnes, the mayor of Uvalde.[9] Miller went on to defeat Merritt in the runoff election and then to win handily the general election on November 4, 2014.

In August 2016, as the president of the Texas Oil and Gas Association, Staples testified before the Sunset Advisory Commission to urge that the Railroad Commission continue to provide supervision of the industries which he represents: "We believe the Railroad Commission should continue to handle contested case hearings because these proceedings require petroleum engineering, geological, geophysical and land issue expertise that is unique to Railroad Commission examiners and staff." Staples also said that the Oil and Gas Association supports the tracking and reporting of violations each year.[11]


Same-sex Marriage[edit]

In 2003, Staples sponsored a bill that prohibited the State of Texas from recognizing same-sex marriages, then again in 2005, sponsored and campaigned for another bill that successfully amended the Texas Constitution to limit marriage to one man and one woman.

Electoral history[edit]

2014 Texas Lieutenant Governor Republican Primary Election
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Dan Patrick 550,769 41.45
Republican David Dewhurst (Incumbent) 376,196 28.31
Republican Todd Staples 235,981 17.75
Republican Jerry Patterson 165,787 12.47

Texas general election, 2006: Texas Commissioner of Agriculture[4] Party Candidate Votes  % -Republican Todd Staples 2,9573,406 60.82% -Democratic Hank Gilbert 1,738,456 35.79% -Libertarian Clay Woolam 164,035 3.37%

Turnout 4,856,266

Texas general election, 2006: Texas Commissioner of Agriculture[12]
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Republican Todd Staples 2,307,406 54.77 -4.77
Democratic Hank Gilbert 1,760,402 41.79 +3.97
Libertarian Clay Woolam 144,989 3.44 +2.26
Majority 547,004 12.98 -8.74
Turnout 4,212,797 -4.85
Republican hold
Texas general election, 2002: Senate District 3[13]
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Republican Todd Staples 119,993 88.23 +27.59
Libertarian Michael Carter 16,001 11.76 +11.76
Majority 103,992 76.47 +55.18
Turnout 135,994 -45.92
Republican hold
Texas general election, 2000: Senate District 3[14]
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Republican Todd Staples 152,514 60.64 +10.55
Democratic David Fisher 98,976 39.36 -10.55
Majority 53,538 21.29 +21.10
Turnout 251,490 +20.88
Republican hold
Republican primary, 2000: Senate District 3[15]
Candidate Votes % ±
Van Brookshire 4,875 11.08
Les Tarrance 8,816 18.05
Todd Staples 20,367 70.15
Majority 21,522 52.10
Turnout 29,183


  1. ^ "Looking back". Palestine Herald.
  2. ^ Office of the Secretary of State (Texas) (2002-09-13). "State Senate Candidates for 2002 General Election". Archived from the original on 2008-02-13. Retrieved 2006-12-26.
  3. ^ Gubbins, Teresa (September 15, 2014). "Texas ag commissioner belly aches about Meatless Monday program". CultureMap Dallas. Retrieved September 18, 2014.
  4. ^ a b c "Beth Brown, Agriculture commissioner says industry isn't getting message across". Bryan-College Station Eagle. Retrieved June 6, 2013.
  5. ^ "Peggy Fikac, "Despite experience, Staples still defining himself for voters," February 14, 2014". Houston Chronicle. Retrieved February 26, 2014.
  6. ^ "Frank Lee Wendel". Retrieved February 23, 2014.
  7. ^ "Texas Roundup". Archived from the original on January 2, 2010. Retrieved October 12, 2009.
  8. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2014-01-09. Retrieved 2006-12-28.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  9. ^ a b "Republican primary election returns, March 4, 2014". Archived from the original on March 7, 2014. Retrieved March 6, 2014.
  10. ^ a b c "Beth Brown, "GOP lieutenant governor candidates reach out to Bryan-College Station voters," January 9, 2013". Bryan-College Station Eagle. Retrieved January 9, 2014.
  11. ^ "Texas Oil & Gas Association Welcomes Robust Oversight by Experts at the Railroad Commission". Texas Oil and Gas Association. August 22, 2016. Retrieved February 22, 2017.
  12. ^ "2006 General Election". Office of the Secretary of State (Texas). Archived from the original on 2014-01-09. Retrieved 2007-01-02.
  13. ^ "2002 General Election". Office of the Secretary of State (Texas). Archived from the original on 2014-01-09. Retrieved 2007-01-01.
  14. ^ "2000 General Election". Office of the Secretary of State (Texas). Archived from the original on 2014-01-09. Retrieved 2007-01-01.
  15. ^ "2000 Republican Party Primary Election". Office of the Secretary of State (Texas). Archived from the original on 2014-01-09. Retrieved 2007-01-01.

External links[edit]

Texas House of Representatives
Preceded by Member of the Texas House of Representatives
from District 11 (Palestine)

Succeeded by
Texas Senate
Preceded by Texas State Senator
from District 3 (Palestine)

Succeeded by
Preceded by Texas Agriculture Commissioner
Succeeded by