AUSTIN (KXAN) — Sarah Stogner proudly carried out an underdog campaign to challenge incumbent Railroad Commission chairman Wayne Christian. On social media and at her campaign appearances, she spoke about self-funding her bid for the Republican party nomination.
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But as the primary runoff grew closer, Stogner decided to make a big change in strategy. She accepted a large donation from a west Texas rancher to boost her campaign. Stogner’s latest campaign finance report notes a $1.6 million in-kind contribution from rancher Ashley Watt. The report said the donation is for “political consulting and ad placement with political communications.”
Stogner, an oil and gas attorney, is still considered an underdog in the runoff against Christian. The incumbent has received donations from several businesses and political action committees. He’s also received endorsements from establishment politicians, including Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick.
Stogner has painted Christian as being focused more on the interests of donors and politicians than on everyday Texans. Christian emphasized his stance against government regulation, saying that’s in the best interest of the oil and gas industry.
The Railroad Commission of Texas regulates the state’s oil and gas industry. Despite the name, it does not regulate railroads in Texas.
Christian was first elected to the Railroad Commission in 2016. He previously served in the legislature as a State Representative. Christian won 47% of the vote in the primary, falling short of the 50% threshold needed to avoid a runoff.
Stogner came in second in the crowded primary field. Shortly before early voting began, she posted a video on social media showing her, nearly naked, riding on an oil pumpjack.
“Use social media, or it will use you,” Stogner tweeted after posting the video. She said she made the post to get people to pay attention to what she was saying about issues in the race.