The race to become Texas’ next oil and gas regulator has grown more crowded.
Former State Rep. Wayne Christian, R-Center, on Monday announced his candidacy for the Texas Railroad Commission, the powerful agency that does not oversee railroads, but regulates the oil and gas industry, pipelines and natural gas utilities. He’s looking to fill the seat being vacated by Barry Smitherman, who is running for Texas attorney general.
Christian was heavily involved in oil and gas issues as a lawmaker, serving as vice chairman of the House Regulated Industries Committee and serving on the lower chamber's Energy Committee.
In a statement, Christian promised to “protect our energy sector jobs, advocate for energy independence and stand up to the federal government’s overreaching (U.S.) EPA.”
The Shelby County financial planner was first elected to the Texas House in 1996 and served seven terms until Rep. Chris Paddie, R-Marshall, unseated him in the 2012 primary. Christian, at one point president of the Texas Conservative Coalition, took a brief hiatus from the House to run for Congress; he lost in a 2004 race that pitted him against Louie Gohmert.
He enters a crowded race with no clear front-runner. His opponents include state Rep. Stefani Carter, R-Dallas; former state Rep. Ray Keller, a Republican who represented southern Dallas County; Malachi Boyuls, an oil and gas investor and former regulatory attorney; Becky Berger, a geologist and member of the State Republican Executive Committee; oil and gas engineer Ryan Sitton, who lost a House bid in 2012; and attorney Joe Pool Jr., son of former U.S. Rep. Joe R. Pool, a Dallas Democrat who served from 1963 to 1968.
No Democrat has entered a race that is sure to feature plenty of attacks against federal regulators and praise of the economic benefits of the drilling boom gripping Texas.
In Texas Weekly's mid-August nonscientific survey of government and political insiders, several people described the candidates — minus Christian and Sitton — as relative unknowns.