CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The current state senator representing the 2nd Senatorial District has announced his intention to seek a statewide office.

“I’m going to seek the Commissioner of Agriculture’s job in 2016,” Kent Leonhardt said on Monday’s MetroNews-affiliated “The Mike Queen Show” on the AJR News Network.

A farmer and retired Marine from Monongalia County previously ran for the position in 2012, but lost to current Ag Commissioner Democrat Walt Helmick, 316,591 to 297,088.

“I got a late start in 2012. I wasn’t on the primary after somebody else had fallen out of the race, I was asked to join that race,” Leonhardt said. “We did a pretty good job coming from ground zero, so to speak.”

This time around, with the support of Senate President and gubernatorial candidate Bill Cole, along with other state Republican leaders, he believes he will have the support to propel him to a win.

As a farmer, Leonhardt said he can bring a lot of knowledge to the position, especially when it come to managing the state’s food supply.

“In order to keep that food totally safe and healthy for the citizens, you have to have been part of that food chain somewhere along the line.”

He said his military background would also come into play when developing safety measures for that supply.

A major focus for the campaign will be the development of markets for state producers, especially those working in smaller operations.

“We’re going to work a little bit better planning, we’re going to work on greater access to markets, we’re going to have an innovative approach to farming and small business,” he said. “That’s what West Virginia really needs, we need to have some innovation here.”

Another part of his platform will be a program he has long advocated for, the Veterans-to-Agriculture program created as part of legislation passed in 2014.

Leonhardt is currently serving in the middle of his four-year term in the senate, meaning he can run for the position while remaining in the Senate.

http://wvmetronews.com/2015/08/17/monongalia-county-senator-announces-intent-to-run-for-commissioner-of-agriculture-in-2016/