Republican Wayne Christian was elected to fill the open seat on the three-member Railroad Commission of Texas (RRC), beating his Democrat challenger, a retired school teacher; a Green Party candidate; and a Libertarian who is a retired petroleum engineer.
Christian garnered more than 53% of the vote and was the favorite to win. He was heavily supported by campaign donations from the energy industry and was endorsed by Gov. Greg Abbott. Former Railroad Commission Chairman Michael Williams and State Sen. Van Taylor (R-Plano) also endorsed Christian.
Libertarian Mark Miller, who holds a doctorate from Stanford University, was enthusiastically endorsed by a number of the state's leading newspapers (see Daily GPI, Oct. 13). Miller received 5.3% of the vote.
Christian joins RRC commissioners Christi Craddick and Ryan Sitton, both Republicans.
Businessman Christian is a former state legislator from East Texas. He holds a bachelor's degree in business administration from Stephen F. Austin State University. After college he was a member of country/gospel band the Mercy River Boys. In 1987, Christian opened a financial services business that he still owns. He is a three-time AIG "top adviser" nationwide.
Christian served in the Texas House from 1997 to 2013 and was vice-chair of regulated industries and a member of the Energy Resource Committee.
During the campaign, Christian said his priorities if elected would be to provide "consistent, predictable, and science-based leadership" and to use his experience as a state representative to bridge the gap between the RRC and the state legislature.
Also running for the seat were Democrat Grady Yarbrough, a retired San Antonio school teacher who got 38.4% of the vote, and Green Party candidate Martina Salinas, who got 3.2% of the vote. The four candidates were culled from a slate of nearly one-dozen that had sought the seat being vacated by Commissioner David Porter (see Daily GPI, Dec. 16, 2015).
The RRC is undergoing another state Sunset Review process, with numerous changes recommended for how the commission regulates the industry. A name change also has been recommended for the RRC, which has nothing to do with railroads (see Daily GPI, Aug. 23).