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Texas Republican Sarah Stogner endorses Democrat Luke Warford for Railroad Commission

The nod from Stogner, who drew attention in the GOP primary after appearing nearly nude in a TikTok video, could boost Warford against Wayne Christian.

A former Republican candidate for the Texas Railroad Commission has endorsed the Democrat running in November, Luke Warford.

The nod from Sarah Stogner, who drew attention in the GOP primary this year after appearing nearly nude in a TikTok video, could give Warford a boost against incumbent Railroad Commissioner Wayne Christian, who is running for a second term.

“I’m officially endorsing Luke because I’m hopeful that people that believed in me will trust my judgment and say, I really think Luke is a better candidate than Wayne,” Stogner told The Dallas Morning News.

Warford faces an uphill battle against Christian. No Democrat has won a statewide office in Texas since 1994. And while the three members of the Railroad Commission play an important role as the chief regulators of Texas’ gargantuan oil and gas industry, the downballot race often struggles to grab the voters’ attention.

Stogner, however, was able to break through when she posted the video of herself wearing little more than boots, a cowboy hat and pasties while atop a West Texas pumpjack.

Her gambit worked, garnering headlines from national and local publications and propelling her to second place in a five-way Republican primary. Christian beat Stogner handily in the May 24 runoff, with 65% of the vote.

Stogner endorsed Warford after the former Democratic party operative visited her at the West Texas ranch where she lives. On Thursday, Stogner posted a TikTok video of her and Warford discovering gurgling oil and gas coming from a plugged well on the ranch.

She said Warford will put Texas first.

“I had hundreds of thousands of people vote for me in the Republican primary,” Stogner said. “If I can get those hundreds of thousands of people to trust me and show up and vote for Luke, because it’s what’s best for Texas energy, I might actually be able to make a difference.”

“I’m honored to have Sarah’s endorsement,” Warford said in a written statement. “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.”

Stogner appeared on the verge of endorsing Libertarian candidate Jaime Andrés Díez after Díez toured the ranch and emulated her nearly naked pumpjack ride. But Stogner said she promoted Díez as part of the “anybody but Wayne” talking point she’s had since she joined the race.

July campaign finance reports showed Christian has a warchest of $183,239 to Warford’s $110,066. The next reports are due Oct. 11.

Christian and the other two members of the all-Republican board have faced scrutiny in the wake of the deadly February 2021 winter storm. Critics have said the Railroad Commission has been reluctant to enact strong rules following the freeze, despite natural gas producers and pipelines contributing to widespread power outages over half the state.

Democrats and Republicans leveled withering attacks against the commission after a $150 waiver was proposed for natural gas producers that did not want to weatherize their facilities.

The commission reversed course on the waiver and in 2022 introduced stricter regulations and created the first ever weatherization requirements for natural gas companies with facilities that are critical to Texas’ power grid infrastructure.

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