J. Allen Carnes

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​Jay Allen Carnes

Mayor of Uvalde, Texas, USA​
In office
2012​ – ​2014
Preceded by Cody L. Smith​
Succeeded by Don McLaughlin, Jr.

Born November 23, 1974​
Place of birth missing​
Political party Democrat-turned-Republican (2012)​

Unsuccessful 2014 Republican primary candidate for Texas Commissioner of Agriculture ​

Spouse(s) Brooke Milam Carnes ​
Children Three children​
Residence Uvalde, Uvalde County​
Alma mater University of Texas
Occupation Farmer and businessman
Religion United Methodist

Jay Allen Carnes, usually cited as J. Allen Carnes (born November 23, 1974),[1] is a farmer and businessman who from 2012 to 2014 served as the mayor of Uvalde, Texas.[2][3][4]​ On March 4, 2014, Carnes was an unsuccessful Republican candidate in the primary election for Texas Commissioner of Agriculture.


Carnes was reared on a ranch in Uvalde County and graduated in 1997 with a degree in Finance from the McCombs School of Business at the University of Texas at Austin.[5] Prior to his election as mayor, a nonpartisan position in Texas, he served from 2008 to 2012 on the Uvalde City Council. He has also been appointed to the Texas International Produce Association and the Texas Vegetable Association.[3]

Carnes' grandfather began to till the soil about Uvalde in 1950. Allen Carnes is the principal owner and manager of Winter Garden Produce, located on the north side of Uvalde. The company ships crops throughout the nation. Carnes farms vegetables, grain, and cotton. The Carnes family owns more than 3,500 acres of farmland. Carnes himself manages more than 1,000 acres and holds majority interest in the cotton gin.[5] Like the state as a whole, Winter Garden Produce has struggled in recent years with drought, a matter which particularly concerns Carnes.[6] He is affiliated with the South Texans' Property Rights Association, the Texas Farm Bureau Federation, and the Fort Worth-based Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association.[5]

Carnes and his wife, the former Brooke C. Milam (born February 18, 1976), have three children. He is finance chairman of the First United Methodist Church in Uvalde. He is a coach for Uvalde Youth Sports.[5]

Race for agriculture commissioner

Carnes began his campaign for agriculture commissioner with $89,000, the smallest amount of the five Republican candidates who sought the position.[3] Carnes' opponents challenged his actual commitment to the Republican Party. Carnes voted in the Democratic primaries in 2008 and 2010, as well as 2000, although he disputes that contention. He said that he backed Democrats in local races for sheriff and county judge in which no Republicans were seeking those offices in Uvalde County. Carnes said that his backing for these Democrats and political contributions to other Democrats was tied directly to agriculture issues.

Nevertheless, Carnes considers himself a "lifelong Republican" who as a 17-year-old volunteered in the unsuccessful 1992 campaign to reelect the late U.S. President George Herbert Walker Bush: "It killed me when he got beat by Clinton, and I couldn't vote."[7]

Under Texas election law, one is automatically a "member" of the political party in whose primary and/or runoff election he participates. Only Democrats and Republicans in Texas hold primaries. He remains a "member" of that party for two years until the next regular primary or runoff. The only way he can "change" his party is to wait two years, then skip a primary and become an "unaffiliated" voter or to vote in the other party's primary and in effect "change" his partisan registration. He cannot switch from one party's primary and vote in the other party's immediate runoff election.[8]

Carnes donated about $5,000 total to three Democrat members of the U.S. Congress, including former U.S. Representative Pete Gallego in the 23rd congressional district, a former state legislator from Alpine in Brewster County. In 2012, Gallego unseated freshman Republican Representative Francisco Canseco, a conservative from San Antonio. Canseco then lost to Will Hurd, a Moderate Republican, in a runoff election for this same seat on May 27, 2014. Carnes contributed to Democrat U.S. Representative Henry Cuellar of Laredo in the 28th congressional district and donated as well to Democratic former Representative Ciro Rodriguez of San Antonio, whom Gallego defeated in the 2012 Democratic primary. In 2004, when Carnes did not vote in either party's primary, Cuellar unseated Rodriguez for the Democratic nomination after a contested recount. Rodriguez subsequently returned in 2006 to claim the neighboring 23rd District, when he unseated the Republican Henry Bonilla of San Antonio. Carnes has also contributed $5,000 to several political action committees concerned with agriculture.[7]

In 2012, Carnes voted for the first time in a Republican primary.[9]

A spokesman for Sid Miller, the winner of the runoff for agriculture commissioner held on May 27, 2014, questioned the role of Janey Briscoe Marmion, the treasurer of the Carnes campaign and a daughter of the late Democratic Governor Dolph Briscoe, also of Uvalde. It was subsequently found that Marmion has given to Republicans five times the amount that she donated to Democrats. Carnes too questioned certain actions of Miller's treasurer, the controversial rock singer Ted Nugent.[7]

Carnes avoided conservative rhetoric in his race for agriculture commissioner.[6] He won the endorsement of baseball icon Nolan Ryan.[10]Ryan's help made little difference, for Carnes finished last in the primary. With 410,273 (34.6 percent) of the ballots cast, Miller led the primary field and then in the runoff contest defeated the runner-up, Tommy Merritt, a former state representative from Longview. The incumbent commissioner, Douglas Todd Staples, vacated the position because he ran unsuccessfully for lieutenant governor in the Republican primary. The three losing primary candidates, Eric Opiela, the former executive director of the Texas Republican Party from Karnes City, Joe Cotton of Frisco, and Carnes, held a combined 44 percent of the ballots cast.[11]


  1. Jay Carnes. Mylife.com. Retrieved on March 19, 2019.
  2. Down on the Farm. Texas Observer (December 18, 2013).
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 David Barer, Uvalde Mayor Carnes, Currently Exploring Agriculture Commissioner Race, to Make Announcement Sept. 5. Dallas Morning News (August 26, 2013). Retrieved on April 25, 2014.
  4. McLaughlin is new mayor. Uvalde Leader-News (May 15, 2014).
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 Biographical Profile for Jay Allen Carnes. vote-tx.org. Retrieved on April 25, 2014.
  6. 6.0 6.1 Down on the Farm The only life-long farmer in the GOP race for Texas agriculture commissioner struggles to be heard over an ideological food-fight, December 18, 2013. The Texas Observer. Retrieved on April 25, 2014.
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 David Barer (January 4, 2014). Rivals make an issue of GOP ag race hopeful's Democratic votes, donations. Dallas Morning News. Retrieved on April 25, 2014.
  8. Lyle C. Brown et al, Practicing Texas Politics, 13th ed. (Houghton Mifflin, 2008), pp. 192–195.
  9. J. Allen Carnes. Young Conservatives of Texas. Retrieved on April 25, 2014.
  10. Nolan Ryan Endorses J Allen Carnes for Texas Agriculture Commissioner, February 12, 2014. reuters.com. Retrieved on April 25, 2014.
  11. Texas Secretary of State, Republican primary election returns, March 4, 2014.