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RRC: Republican Candidate Leads in Cash, But Newspapers Like Libertarian

The Republican favorite to win the available seat on the Railroad Commission of Texas (RRC) has raised the most campaign cash (particularly from industry), but his Libertarian opponent has gotten the nod from some of the state's leading newspapers.

The Democrat vying for the seat has nothing but goose eggs on his campaign finance report, and the Green Party candidate has just a bit more than that.

Republican Wayne Christian received a number of large contributions from oil and natural gas interests, according to his finance report, which runs 58 pages. Among his larger donors are Energy Transfer Partners Texas PAC ($10,000), Exxon Mobil PAC ($12,500), Koch Industries Inc. PAC ($5,000), Marathon Oil Co. PAC of Texas ($10,000), Occidental Petroleum Corp. PAC ($5,000) and Pioneer Natural Resources PAC ($10,000). Numerous smaller donations also came from the industry as well as individuals. Christian has received $194,370 in cash and has about $130,000 on hand, according to his report.

Libertarian Mark Miller's largest contributor is Michael Chastain of Austin ($30,000), a supporter of Libertarian causes. Miller's report runs 114 pages and discloses numerous cash donations (mostly small) totaling $71,881, with about $40,000 remaining.

Miller, a retired petroleum engineer with a Ph.D. from Stanford University, has garnered praise from editorial boards at Texas newspapers.

In September, the Houston Chronicle said, "Miller is clearly the most qualified to serve on the Railroad Commission of Texas." The Dallas Morning News picked Miler over the other candidates but said, "Admittedly, Miller is a long shot for a seat on a three-person panel that Republicans have dominated since the early 1990s." Miller..."could provide a persuasive moderating voice on a panel that too often tilts toward industry interests." The Corpus Christi Caller Times, called Miller "the only qualified candidate for [the] RRC" and said Christian "is unsuited" for the seat.

Christian, a former Texas state representative, was twice named to Texas Monthly magazine's list of 10 worst legislators while he was in office.

Democrat Grady Yarbrough, a retired San Antonio school teacher, did not disclose any contributions in his report. Green Party candidate Martina Salinas reported $820 in monetary contributions, with about $345 on hand, in her report.

The RRC candidates for the Nov. 8 election were culled from a slate of nearly one-dozen that had sought the seat being vacated by Commissioner David Porter (see Daily GPIDec. 16, 2015).

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