But Leonhardt is worried about what would happen if a crisis were more widespread. West Virginia received help from outside the state after the derecho hit, but those resources might not be available in a larger event.
Leonhardt said increasing the number of farmers in the state would give West Virginia access to a larger in-state food supply.
It's a safety issue, too. He said the longer food travels before it gets to the dinner table, the greater chance it will be contaminated.
"We need to shorten the distance from producer to consumer," he said.
Leonhardt figures the state could increase the number of farmers with a four-point approach: educate would-be farmers about opportunities in agriculture, provide them with business models, offer low-cost loans to get started and help market their products.
"The farmers will grow a product if they have a market," he said.
Leonhardt got into farming because he's always been interested in animals. His father, a general practice physician in Floren Park, N.J, was a hunter and fisherman and helped his son develop a love of the outdoors.
Leonhardt attended the University of Missouri, where he majored in wildlife management and pre-veterinary studies. He finished that degree but then decided to enlist in the military, realizing returning Vietnam veterans were getting most of the state and federal jobs.
"The only wildlife I ever managed was Marines," he now jokes.
Still, his interest in animals endured. Despite a complete lack of farming experience, Leonhardt and his wife, Shirley, bought their Monongalia County farm in 1982 while he was still on active duty.
The property had been abandoned since 1957. The fields were overgrown and the house, now beautifully restored, was used to store hay.
Kent and Shirley visited occasionally to clean up the place, often camping in their unfinished home. They moved onto the property full time in 1996, finished fixing up the house and started their farm.
"Most of this is self-taught," Leonhardt said as he led a tour of his property.
He opened a gate and started across the pasture, a plastic bucket of corn in his right hand.
"Here sheep! C'mon sheep."
Leonhardt shook the bucket and the animals came running, anticipating a snack.
The cows, goats and sheep are kept in separate paddocks but are rotated regularly because cows will eat weeds that sheep won't, and sheep will eat weeds that goats don't, and goats will eat grass and weeds that cows and sheep avoid.
Rotating the animals also helps reduce parasite infections, because cows and goats are not affected by the same bugs that affect sheep.
The farm doesn't grow any crops except hay, but Leonhardt used to have a large garden where he grew vegetables. The garden is mostly empty this year, however, because the campaign has kept him away from home.
Leonhardt figures he will have to reduce his operation even further if he wins the race.
He would have to work in Charleston during the week so farming would be limited to the weekends. He and Shirley would have to sell some of their livestock to make the herd more manageable. They might have to hire some help, too.
"I'm not going to get rich off of this," he said, walking back to the house after giving the goats their own bucket of corn.
But that wasn't ever the plan. Leonhardt said his parents raised him to believe everyone should give their best to help others. That's another reason he joined the Marines, and why he decided to run for agriculture commissioner.
"I felt I had the knowledge and the experience to do the job," he said. "The farmer has done it from the ground up. The veteran has led men and women in peace and war and has worked in crises.
"Personally, I don't think there's a choice."