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Christian: Train Whistles an Education Tool in Railroad Commission Race

Wayne Christian says he is troubled that few voters seem to know much about the Railroad Commission's duties, which do not include regulating trains. His campaign is handing out branded train whistles, which, he says, spark dialogue about the agency's scope.

Former state Rep. and current Railroad Commission candidate Wayne Christian numbers a wooden train whistle among his campaign memorabilia.

No, the Railroad Commission of Texas has nothing to do with trains. And some candidates vying for an open seat on the commission, which has everything to do with oil and gas, say they are getting tired of repeating that refrain.

“We only have so many minutes to talk,” said Becky Berger, a geologist who is among those candidates, ahead of a Republican Women of Austin forum on Thursday, “and we have to spend some of them telling people what [the agency] is.”

Former state Rep. Wayne Christian, R-Center, says he is also troubled that few voters seem familiar with the agency — particularly when considering how much money the oil and gas industry pumps into the Texas economy. 

“The vast majority of our friends have no clue about what the Railroad Commission does,” he said.

So it might seem counterintuitive that Christian’s campaign is handing out branded train whistle key chains to prospective voters.

Christian said his wooden whistle is a fun way to spark conversations — those in which Christian explains the agency’s purview and importance. 

“A knowledgeable electorate is the most important tool we have,” he said. 

But there's no consensus on whether the whistles will help clear up voters' confusion.

Malachi Boyuls, an oil and gas investor and former regulatory attorney in the race, did not specifically comment on the train whistles, but said that in general, “I don’t think it helps to perpetuate the confusion.”

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