Texas Republican Endorses Democrat In Race for State's Top Oil Watchdog

(Bloomberg) -- A Texas Republican has crossed party lines to endorse a Democrat in a race to oversee the oil and natural gas industry in the nation’s largest energy producer.

Sarah Stogner, a former Republican nominee for Texas Railroad Commission, has endorsed Democrat Luke Warford over GOP candidate Wayne Christian in the general election. Stogner lost to Christian in a May runoff where she received roughly 35% of the ballot.

“This is one of the most significant endorsements I could imagine getting,” Warford said in an interview. “In a race where the margins could be in the thousands, the hundreds of thousands of votes that Sarah had already received could be really significant.”

Texans will be casting ballots for governor, attorney general and other statewide offices in November. Vying for one of the three seats overseeing the state’s top oil regulatory agency, the two men hold starkly different views. Warford has campaigned on using the agency’s regulatory role to improve the state’s troubled power gird and increase protections for landowners. Christian is a vocal critic of renewable power.

“I think he’s got a really good shot,” Stogner said in an interview about Warford. “He’s the better candidate. This shouldn’t be a Republican/Democrat thing. This should be a Texas thing.”

As rivals in the Republican primary, Stogner and Christian differed sharply over how to regulate the industry. Stogner, an energy attorney, claims Christian and the Railroad Commission are not doing enough to protect landowners from oil companies. Stogner’s most notable client is West Texas rancher Ashley Watt, who is trying to get Chevron Corp. to clean up abandoned wells that are leaking noxious oil field wastewater. Stogner endorsed Warford days after he visited West’s Permian Basin ranch.

Meanwhile, Christian has denounced what he calls “woke” ESG investing. When asked about climate change at a public event, he said “turn the damn air conditioning up.”

“For months, Sarah Stogner lied to voters about her party affiliation and political beliefs,” Christian said in a statement. “Now that Republicans have rejected her radical agenda, it is no surprise she would support her party’s nominee.”

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