Craddick Sees Unicorn from 2022 Battle
Behind Quartet of Last-Minute GOP Foes

Capitol Inside
December 13, 2023

Texas Railroad Commissioner Christi Craddick and her supporters suspect that she's the target of a devious scheme to deprive her of the statewide post at the polls with the sudden and simultaneous emergence of four Republican challengers on Monday before the filing deadline for the primary election in 2024.

Craddick - a Midland Republican who's seeking a third term - believes that former RRC contender Sarah Stogner was behind the quartet of candidates who surfaced in the eleventh hour with the filings of Christie Clark, Chris Corner, Corey Howell and Petra Reyes as primary contestants for the position that regulates oil and gas here.

The incumbent's conspiracy theory makes sense to some degree for several reasons. It's based in part on the fact that one of the expected RRC competitors has the same first name despite the e at the end while a second has a shortened version. Neither the Texas GOP or the Secretary of State had listed the hometowns for the last-minute entrants by Wednesday night.

Clark the candidate may be the same person who's an attorney in Houston. Howell could be the same man who worked an intern for Kay Bailey Hutchison in the U.S. Senate before a stint as the director for a Texas House committee that State Rep. Ryan Guillen of Rio Grande City led as a Democrat before switching several years later to the GOP. A Weimar resident with the same name made small contributions to Governor Greg Abbott, former Land Commissioner George P. Bush and GOP State Senator Lois Kolkhorst.

The SOS Reyes listed for the RRC race as Petra Olivia. But Olivia is the middle name for Petra Reyes - a financial consultant for the energy industry in her home base of Midland. Reyes is a native from the same West Texas city where Stogner and the incumbent are residents as well.

Stogner turned the GOP on its head last year when she ran for the RRC as a political novice in a bid to unseat Railroad Commissioner Wayne Christian in a field that featured four white men and herself. Stogner introduced herself to voters in a TikTok video that showed her riding an oil pump jack in her underwear.

The prurient forces in the GOP were outraged by Stogner's audacity and quickly dismissed her as a candidate with nothing to show for herself but the stripper impersonation gimmick. Republicans were disgusted by Stogner's support for a clean environment with policies that could cut into profits for oil and gas. They collectively predicted that she would come in last in the initial vote.

But Stogner proved them wrong when advanced to a runoff with Christian while the other Republicans were eliminated in the first round. Christian might have find it impossible to compete with Stogner on an even playing field. But he had a massive money advantage and staved Stogner off with 65 percent of the overtime vote.

Craddick's main asset has been her father - Tom Craddick - a former Texas House speaker who's been a member of the Legislature's lower chamber for almost 56 years. Craddick the regulator had more than $4 million in the campaign bank midway through the summer.

She's concerned that the purported Stogner candidates are trying to force into a runoff that would prompt her to spend substantially more from the war chest than she had planned. Craddick can expect to run as a substantial favorite regardless of the potential for overtime nonetheless.

Democrats Bill Burch and Katherine Culbert filed to run for Craddick's seat as well. Culbert is a process safety engineer in the oil and gas business in Houston. Burch, who resides in Livingston, also is an engineer in the industry.

Republican Jim Matlock of Nacogdoches also is running for the Railroad Commission in the primary election next year. While Craddick and other establishment Republicans will see the four latecomers to the race as Democrats in disguise,

Matlock could be running to the right as a candidate who signed the Take Texas Back pledge to push for a referendum on the rebirth of Texas as an independent nation. There would be no RRC if that comes to pass.

The RRC race is the only contest for a statewide executive position on the Texas ballot in 2024. Stogner appeared to be planning to run for the RRC again before shifting her sights to a bid for state district judge instead. Stogner portrayed herself as a unicorn in the statewide contest last year.

more to come ...







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