As I previously noted in my Dan Patrick analysis, there were three other Statewide GOP primary runoffs last night. Ken Paxton defeated Dan Branch for Attorney General, Sid Miller defeated Tommy Merritt for Agriculture Commissioner and Ryan Sitton defeated Wayne Christian for Railroad Commissioner. In the former two contests, the clearly denoted “Tea Party” candidate defeated the “Moderate establishment” pick, whereas the latter race was significantly more nuanced. While Christian has a history in public office of using loud and obstreperous right-wing noise to the detriment of actual policy, Sitton also campaigned heavily on right-wing issues. For example, his campaign commercials discussed immigration policy, taking a hard stand on undocumented immigration, despite that it has little to do with the office of Railroad Commissioner, which regulates the oil and gas industries.
Specifically in the Attorney General’s race, Paxton won in yet another blowout, winning almost every county in the State, save a few in the Valley and along the Edwards plateau. The issue with Paxton is a novel one, as he has received no shortage of bad publicity this campaign cycle for some shady dealings. Paul Burka at Texas Monthly lamented Paxton in particular as both a “know-nothing” and someone likely to be convicted of a felony and disbarred. What a wonderful candidate for Attorney General.
Click here for the three obligatory charts!
Last night, I attended the “victory party” for the David Dewhurst campaign. As one may have expect, the affair for the Lieutenant Governor was rather somber as a result of his crushing defeat at the hands of State Senator Dan Patrick (R-Harris County), who usurped the nomination away from the three-term incumbent. In other news from around the State, State Senator Ken Paxton (R-Collin County) defeated State Representative Dan Branch (R-Dallas County) to win the GOP nomination for Attorney General and former State Representative Sid Miller (R-Erath County) defeated former State Representative Tommy Merritt (R-Gregg County) to win the GOP nomination for Agriculture Commissioner. Ryan Sitton also won the Republican primary runoff for the Railroad Commission, besting former State Representative Wayne Christian (R-Shelby County). All in all, it was a fantastic night for the Tea Party in an election cycle where they are losing all over the rest of the country.
Whenever I go to an election watch party, I invariably attempt to befriend the younger faces, out of familiarity I suppose. As a fun aside, this was the first election where some of those “younger faces” were actually younger than me, but that is neither here nor there. What stuck out to me was the degree of hatred pointed toward Patrick that many held. Most everyone I talked to pledged to not vote for Dan Patrick in the fall, with many of them willing to thrust eager support behind State Senator Leticia Van de Putte (D-Bexar County), the Democratic nominee for Lieutenant Governor.
“It doesn’t matter anyways, Texas will be a blue state in 10 years,” one of them even said. I was shocked at how many of his compatriots appeared to tacitly agree with such a viewpoint, long the immaculate bread and butter of Democratic politics. You know my opinion on this subject, however. It is going to get worse before it is going to get better, and last night was yet another huge step backwards.
Click here to see my obligatory charts!
What, exactly, does the Railroad Commissioner do? Hopefully we have been explanatory enough for you to know that it has absolutely nothing to do with the railroads. Simply put, this post serves as the de facto oil & gas czar for Texas, a highly important job in the new Texas oil boom. Admittedly, the opinion of this board is to favor more environmental regulations on these businesses than the candidates in this Republican primary, Wayne Christian and Ryan Sitton. Of course, we also fully repudiate those on the left-wing who believe that all drilling is evil and should be eviscerated. A balancing is needed, one that we fear the candidates will not deliver on.
Take fracking, for example. The revolutionary process opens up previously-unreachable shale sources of energy, which Texas is quite literally riddled with, opening open the possibly of yet another oil boom in this State. The problem is that there are some serious side-effects with this new technology, including pollution and earthquakes. A railroad commissioner should be able to balance environmental interest with economical ones. He should be able to gauge relevant facts on the matter to do this, not being swayed by any sort of partisan dogma. Unfortunately, it is our belief that both Christian and Sitton do this in the unfortunate race to the right that is all too ubiquitous in today’s Republican Party.
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As we have discussed in our previous endorsement, the Railroad Commission is a three-person board with a powerful responsibility to regulate and look over the ever-growing oil & gas sector in this State. The name is a misnomer, as the commission has very little to do with railroads, and instead exists as a sort of Energy Czar. When we look to the current commission’s members, however, we do not think of energy; nor do we think of competent and trustworthy mediators. Between Chrsti Craddick –the daughter of a former House Speaker– and Barry Smitherman, the religious zealot running for Attorney General, this board thoroughly laments the loss of skill and sensibility from the commission. While a background in the sector is, in fact, encouraged, for candidates, we would hope candidates would be able to present an open mind and use fair judgment, not being beholden to any special interests.
Accordingly, we recommend strongly against a vote for Wayne Christian, Ray Keller or Ryan Sitton. Specifically in the case of the former individual, we see no reason to continue in a tradition of business-as-usual, supporting politicians with no credentials in the field to speak of, merely a conservative record in the Legislature. Such a record does not suffice, in our opinion.
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Simply put, there have been some entrances and some exits in recent Statewide Republican primaries. Namely, in the races for the positions of Agriculture Commissioner and Railroad Commissioner.
Brandon Creighton, a State Representative from Magnolia who took his sweet time to announce his candidacy for Agriculture Commissioner, is out of the race. As far as I could figure, Creighton was the hands-down favorite in the race thus far, and his exit opened up a vacuum. Politics, of course, abhors a vacuum, and therefore a small stampede of candidates rushed into the primary, which now lacks a clear frontrunner. I never got around to writing about this last week, but Sophia discussed it in the week in review this past Sunday.
Now, the Texas Tribune reports that State Representative Stefani Carter, a candidate for Railroad Commissioner, has dropped out of the race. Carter, in stark contrast to Creighton, was not doing especially well in the race. Malachi Boyuls, George P. Bush’s business partner, has by far the most money in that race, and thus was crowned as the frontrunner by the Tribune. Carter, therefore, most likely felt her candidacy was not worthwhile.
Click here to learn who the new candidates are and what the former candidates will now run for!