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Republican Christian, Democrat Yarbrough to Vie For Texas RRC Seat

Wayne Christian, a former Texas state representative, beat real estate mogul Gary Gates in the Republican runoff in the contest for a seat on the three-member Railroad Commission of Texas (RRC).

In the Nov. 8 general election, Christian will face retired San Antonio public school teacher Grady Yarbrough, who defeated Cody Garrett in the Democratic runoff on Tuesday. Christian is favored to be the victor in the general election, given the Republican party's grip on state politics and a long history of an all-Republican RRC. Libertarian Mark Miller, a petroleum engineer, will also be on the ticket in November.

While a state lawmaker, Christian was twice named to Texas Monthly magazine's list of 10 worst legislators. During the campaign, the Christian camp said Gates had failed to maintain some of his rental properties in Houston. The Gates camp charged that Christian wants to "mandate" renewable energy and "limit certain types of oil and gas drilling." The Austin American Statesman endorsed Gates in the GOP race. The Texas Oil & Gas Association Good Government Committee endorsed Christian (see Daily GPI,May 11).

Yarbrough was endorsed by the Dallas Morning News in the Democratic runoff. "...[W]e're impressed with his seemingly genuine commitment to be a consumer voice on this three-person board," the newspaper said.

In their respective runoffs, Christian garnered 50.9% of the vote and Yarbrough captured 53.9%. Voter turnout was reported to be light. Christian and Yarbrough were culled from a slate of nearly one-dozen candidates for the seat being vacated by David Porter (see Daily GPI,Dec. 16, 2015).

The RRC is at the beginning of another review by the state Sunset Advisory Commission. The commission has again recommended that the agency's name be changed to something that better reflects its function of regulating the energy industry and not railroads. Again it has been recommended that contested hearings at the RRC be transferred from the commission to the State Office of Administrative Hearings. The Sunset panel also said regulation of natural gas utilities should be transferred to the Public Utilities Commission of Texas (see Daily GPI,May 2).

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