Ryan Sitton has notched an endorsement from the man he’s vying to replace on the Texas Railroad Commission.
Chairman Barry Smitherman, who is leaving the commission after his failed run for attorney general, said Tuesday that he supports Sitton, an oil and gas engineer from Houston, in the Republican runoff for his open seat.
“Ryan is an experienced entrepreneur who has actually worked in the Texas energy industry,” Smitherman said in a news release. He is not a career politician, but a business leader that understands the critical role oil, natural gas, gas pipelines and lignite coal play in driving our Texas economy forward.”
Challenging Sitton is Wayne Christian, a former state representative from Center, who is backed by several Tea Party groups. Christian led Sitton by 12 percentage points in the initial balloting last month.
Smitherman is the only sitting railroad commissioner to publicly endorse either candidate. A former commissioner, Elizabeth Ames Jones, also supports Sitton.
Christian's recent endorsers include Grassroots America-We the People, a group based in Tyler, and Kelly Shackelford, president of the Plano-based Liberty Institute.