AUSTIN (AP) – Texas Railroad Commissioner Michael Williams formally announced his bid to replace retiring U.S. Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison on Thursday, promising to be a consistent conservative.

Williams joins a crowded field in the race for the Republican Party’s nomination in 2012. Another railroad commissioner, Elizabeth Ames Jones, entered the race earlier this week and a former Texas solicitor general, Ted Cruz, announced his candidacy last week. Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst has said he is exploring the possibility of running.

Williams, the first African American to hold an executive, elected statewide post, made the announcement during a public interview with the Texas Tribune. He vowed to cut the size of government and minimize regulations. He also said he rejects government affirmative action programs and the science behind human-caused climate change.

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