Republican Sarah Stogner endorses Democrat for Railroad Commissioner over Wayne Christian

Stogner (R) garnered 35% of the vote in the Republican primary runoff in May 2022.
Stogner (R) garnered 35% of the vote in the Republican primary runoff in May 2022.(Joshua Skinner / KOSA)
Published: Sep. 26, 2022 at 10:22 AM CDT
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(KOSA) - Texas Railroad Commission Democratic candidate Luke Warford picked up a significant endorsement in his bid to unseat Republican incumbent Wayne Christian.

Monahans oil and gas attorney Sarah Stonger, a Republican, who finished second to Christian in the Republican primary, officially announced her endorsement of Warford on Monday morning.

In a statement released by the Warford campaign, Stogner said:

I’m a lifelong Republican, but Wayne Christian has done such a poor job that I’m crossing the aisle to support Democrat Luke Warford for Railroad Commission. Wayne Christian has proven he is not looking out for our economy or our environment. Our oil and gas industry is vital, and Texans need someone on the Texas Railroad Commission who is actually interested in doing the job in a transparent, responsible, and ethical manner. Wayne is a criminal, full stop. Luke, on the other hand, is pragmatic and pro-business and will do what’s best for Texas. Luke isn’t your typical Democrat. He has shown me that he will engage with subject matter experts to hold bad operators accountable and get out of the way of the good operators who are working to provide oil and natural gas as part of the energy expansion we need to keep the lights on and lower gas prices for Americans.

The endorsement is a big one for Warford. Stogner garnered 35% of the vote in the Republican primary runoff in May.

In response to the endorsement, Warford released a statement saying, “I’m honored to have Sarah’s endorsement. Her campaign highlighted some of the most egregious challenges at the Texas Railroad Commission. From emissions to the grid to the future of Texas energy, the Texas Railroad Commission has failed Texans, and I know they are ready to vote in new leadership in November.”

The RRC election has been one of the wildest in the state in years. Stogner made waves in the primary by posting a social media video of herself riding a pumpjack wearing nothing but underwear and pasties. She credits the move with drawing attention to a race and public office that holds enormous power but about which most Texans know little.

In the Republican primary, Stogner attacked Christian’s ethics and lack of experience in the oil and gas industry. She made orphaned wells and saltwater disposal centerpieces to her campaign, leading the RRC to acknowledge the uncertainties of what’s happening under the ground in parts of the Permian Basin.

Christian painted Stogner as a closet Democrat who supports Beto O’Rourke and crippling regulation of the oil and gas industry.

Christian has mostly avoided public appearances but found himself at the center of an ethics controversy in February when the Odessa American reported he was facing a lawsuit involving a waste repository near Midland.

Multiple families filed suit against Christian, claiming he went against the RRC recommendations not to build the waste repository near a major aquifer. Within days of voting to overrule the recommendation, Christian received a $100,000 donation from the company that planned to build the repository.

The incident, while almost certainly unethical, is legal in Texas. The RRC and its three commissioners are allowed to take political donations from the companies they regulate.

While Christian has occasionally addressed the issues of water contamination, the power grid, and flaring, he’s also campaigned as pro-life, pro-Second Amendment, anti-critical race theory, and pro-police. The Railroad Commission has no jurisdiction over any of these political topics.

Warford, like Christian, has little oil and gas experience and still faces a tough battle to convince Texans that a Democrat can be pro-O&G. He has made fixing the grid the centerpiece of his campaign and says current commissioners are not doing enough to prevent another power crisis like the one caused by the Feb. 2021 winter storm.

Stogner is the second prominent local politician to cross the aisle. Earlier this month, West Texas State Senator Kel Seliger endorsed Democrat Mike Collier for lieutenant governor in his race against incumbent Dan Patrick.

The RRC election will be held the same day as the general election on Tuesday, Nov. 8.