Sen. Paul Hornback contemplating run for Agriculture Commissioner in 2015; Says Daily Show appearance 'distorted'

08/14/2014 10:17 PM

State Sen. Paul Hornback, R-Shelbyville, said it will take a family meeting to decide if he will leave the family farm and spend a possible year pursuing the office of Agriculture Commissioner on the campaign trail.

Hornback was elected to the Senate in 2011 and he says he has kept up with his farming as a legislator — something he has been doing for 37 years growing tobacco, soy beans, corn and fruit on a couple thousand acres.

That full-time job would not mesh with the full-time grind of a constitutional officer — so Hornback will soon sit down with his family to talk about the future of the farm, and who could take care of his land if he decides to run.

“I realize the commissioners seat is full time, so I would have to give up the farming. I’ve got good son-in-laws, good daughters that could take that over and everything so we just need to have a family meeting —decide what we want to do,” Hornback said.

Hornback, who chairs the Senate Agriculture Committee, said his decision is something he feels he can wait on until after the November elections.

One consideration that could haunt Hornback on the campaign trail is an appearance he made on Comedy Central’s The Daily Show in June on the issue of child labor used in farming.

Hornback said that the show was meant to be humorous, but the report was a lot worse than he expected.

“I hadn’t watched the show before for one thing, but I knew it was a political satire show…I knew it was on the comedy channel and I knew they were going to cut and paste a lot of things together…I didn’t think it would be as bad as what they did,” Hornback said.

The report featured Hornback talking to a Daily Show reporter about the work ethic manual labor in tobacco fields can teach kids juxtaposed with children of migrant workers in North Carolina talking about the deplorable conditions they work under.

“Even though it was distorted — it was taken completely out of context. I was sorry it turned out the way it did,” he said adding that there is a place to “teach the value of hard work.”

When asked about his opinion on the child labor laws when it came to farming Hornback said “it depends on the children” and the tasks they’re doing. (9:42)

“Kids are not going to stay focused and concentrated to work full time 12-hours a day on a job unless their parents are forcing them to do it,” Hornback said making a case that some parents of migrant children force kids to work long hard hours for money, something he said does not happen on his farm.

Watch the video above starting at 10:50 to see what Hornback says about immigration and migrant labor reforms he would like to see in agriculture.

Current Agriculture Commissioner James Comer has announced an intent to run for governor in the 2015 Republican primary and he says Hornback would be a “very credible candidate” for the post of commissioner.

“He’s done an outstanding job as chairman of the Senate Agriculture Committee. I’ve known him since I was in college He’s always been a leader in the agriculture community,” Comer said. “I think if he decided to run he would probably be the frontrunner.”


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