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Since 1996, Texas Railroad Commissioner Wayne Christian has campaigned using a slogan that made reference to his last name: “Remember to vote for the only Christian on the ballot.”
But on Friday, Christian’s campaign said it will stop using the slogan after being called out by Democratic opponent Luke Warford, who is Jewish. Christian said he did not know Warford’s religion.
The two face off for the seat on the oil and gas regulatory board on Nov. 8. Early voting started this week and continues through next week.
Warford took to Twitter on Thursday evening, calling Christian’s comments “bigoted.” “Incumbent Wayne Christian is too focused on spouting lazy, hateful nonsense to actually do his job,” he wrote.
Voting FAQ: 2022 midterms
How do I know if I'm registered to vote?
The deadline to register to vote in the 2022 primary election was Oct. 11. Check if you’re registered to vote here.
When can I vote?
Election day is Nov. 8. Early voting ended Nov. 4.
How do I know if I qualify to vote by mail?
This option is fairly limited in Texas. You’re allowed to vote by mail only if: You will be 65 or older by Election Day, you will not be in your county for the entire span of voting, including early voting, you cite a sickness or disability that prevents you from voting in person without needing personal assistance or without the likelihood of injuring your health, you’re expected to give birth within three weeks before or after Election Day or you are confined in jail but otherwise eligible (i.e., not convicted of a felony).
Are polling locations the same on election day as they are during early voting?
Not always. You’ll want to check for open polling locations with your local elections office before you head out to vote. Additionally, you can confirm with your county elections office whether election day voting is restricted to locations in your designated precinct or if you can cast a ballot at any polling place.
How can I find which polling places are near me?
County election offices are supposed to post on their websites information on polling locations for Election Day and during the early-voting period by Oct. 18. The secretary of state’s website will also have information on polling locations closer to the start of voting. However, polling locations may change, so be sure to check your county’s election website before going to vote.
What form of ID do I need to bring to vote?
You’ll need one of seven types of valid photo ID to vote in Texas: A state driver’s license, a Texas election identification certificate, a Texas personal identification card, a Texas license to carry a handgun, a U.S. military ID card with a personal photo, a U.S. citizenship certificate with a personal photo or a U.S. passport. Voters can still cast votes without those IDs if they sign a form swearing that they have a “reasonable impediment” from obtaining a proper photo ID or use a provisional ballot. Find more details here.
What can I do if I have trouble voting?
You can contact your county elections official or call the Texas Secretary of State's helpline at 1-800-252-VOTE (8683). A coalition of voting rights groups is also helping voters navigate election concerns through the 866-OUR-VOTE (687-8683) voter-protection helpline. The coalition also has hotlines available in other languages and for Texans with disabilities.
Travis McCormick, a spokesperson for Christian, told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency in an interview Friday that the slogan was nothing more than a joke to help voters remember Christian’s name. “We definitely would not have said it if we realized our opponent was Jewish,” McCormick said. McCormick also said Christian will not use the tagline moving forward.
Christian told The Texas Tribune he has "nothing but love and support for the Jewish community, and strongly condemns anti-semitism of any kind,"
Christian used the same slogan as recently as 2016, when he ran against state Rep. Gary Gates, who attends a Christian church, according to his legislative biography.
Warford was largely unmoved by Christian’s response.
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“While I’m glad Christian apologized, this moment is just another example of how out of touch he is,” Warford said in a statement Friday. “Texans deserve elected officials who don’t just repeat the same tired lines and instead are willing to come to the table to solve the very real challenges facing our state.”
Christian served as a state representative from 1997-2005 and from 2007-13. He was first elected as one of three state railroad commissioners, who head the Texas Railroad Commission, in 2016. The organization, the oldest regulatory agency in Texas, oversees the oil and natural gas industry, pipeline transporters, coal and uranium mining, and more. The Railroad Commission has not had authority or jurisdiction over state railroads since 2005.
Patrick Svitek contributed to this report.