From  the San Antonio Business Journal

Republican candidate Wayne Christian declared victory in the race for a seat on the Railroad Commission of Texas, the state agency that regulates the oil and gas industry.

Christian, a former state representative from the East Texas town of Center, maintained a comfortable lead throughout election night.

As of 10:12 p.m. Tuesday, Christian had 53 percent of the ballot compared to 39 percent for Democrat Grady Yarbrough, while Libertarian candidate Mark Miller reached 5 percent and Green Party candidate Martina Salinas netted 3 percent.

Christian will take over the seat being vacated by Railroad Commission Chairman David Porter and will be sworn into office on New Year’s Day.

“It’s an honor to serve the people of Texas,” Christian told the Business Journal via telephone from his victory party in Austin.

Although the Railroad Commission race was deep in the shadow of the presidential race, Christian said the agency is important to the future of the Lone Star State.

“Oil and gas makes up one-third of the jobs in this state whether direct or indirect,” Christian told the Business Journal.

Christian said Texas is poised to take back control of global oil production from the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries due to innovations in the Permian Basin of West Texas, where Houston-based Apache Corp. (NYSE: ASA) has also discovered a major new oil field named the Alpine High.

“Apache’s discovery is about to become the next Saudi Arabia,” Christian told the Business Journal.

Texas Ethics Commission records show the Christian received strong financial from the oil and gas industry, as well as leading politicians such as Dan Patrick and George P. Bush. San Antonio billionaire Red McCombs is among Christian’s local supporters.

“We will work to make sure that oil and gas is scientifically safe,” Christian told the Business Journal.

Democrat Yarbrough around 39 percent of the vote despite doing very little campaigning and without seeking or receiving donations.

“More power to him,” Yarbrough said of Christian’s victory. “I wish him well.”

Yarbrough, a former high school teacher who taught in San Antonio, said this election will be his last time to seek office.

“Maybe my efforts will encourage someone else to do the same,” Yarbrough said.

Libertarian Miller told the Business Journal that it is very important that he finish the night with 5 percent of the ballot. Under state law, getting 5 percent of the ballot means that the party would automatically be on the next statewide ballot and would not need a petition.

Miller said the designation will be critical during the 2018 Railroad Commission race, where Commissioner Christi Craddick will be up for re-election. Out of seven statewide Libertarian candidates, Miller was the only one to cross the critical 5 percent line for his party.

“It is very important that we get that 5 percent,” Miller told the Business Journal.

Green Party candidate Salinas told the Business Journal that she is also setting her sights on the 2018 race, where she is hoping that a statewide candidate for her party can also hit 5 percent of the ballot.

“It appears that Texas has continued to vote straight ticket without looking at the candidate, so we’ll get more of the same,” Salinas about the election night results.

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