Energy and Environment Reporting for Texas

The Best Railroad Commission Campaign Ads (Thus Far)

Photo courtesy of Roland Sledge for Railroad Commissioner

Candidate Roland Sledge says he's "gaining momentum" from an online ad that went viral.

The Railroad Commission of Texas, which, despite its name, actually oversees oil and gas drilling in the state, has two seats up for election this fall. One of them will likely be re-taken by its current inhabitant (and chairman of the commission), incumbent Barry Smitherman.

But the other seat is wide open after Elizabeth Ames Jones resigned from the commission earlier this year to run for state Senate. (In the interim, Governor Perry’s appointee Buddy Garcia is occupying the seat until the election.) There’s a close race for it in the Republican Primary between Rep. Warren Chisum, R-Pampa and Austin attorney Christi Craddick, daughter of state Rep. Tom Craddick. (There are several others running for the seat but without much traction, with one exception, which you can read about below.)

Both seats will be determined in the General Election this fall when the Republican and Democratic primary winners face off (the open seat has only one Democratic candidate running unopposed in the primary; Smitherman’s seat has no Democratic challenger). With that out of the way, let’s take a look at some of the video ads the candidates have put forward.

If the race for the open seat on the Railroad Commission of Texas were based on YouTube votes, we’d already have a winner: Roland Sledge, a Houston Attorney currently believed to be a distant third in the race. But after getting 65,000 views of his ‘Don’t Pee on Electric Fences’ video since it debuted two weeks ago, Sledge told the Amarillo Globe-News that he’s “gaining momentum:”

Next is Christi Craddick’s first ad, which leads off with an attack on debt increases under Obama (how that is related to a state oil and gas regulator isn’t made clear) and accuses him of “new regulations that threaten to shut down drilling in Texas.” It has a whopping ninety views:

If that doesn’t get your pulse racing, don’t worry, Warren Chisum is about to ride in on his horse and save the day (with high production values to boot). Get ready for him to fire off his shotgun as a Sam Elliott-like voice intones that he’s “stood up for our values and fought the liberals in Austin:”

Chisum’s ad went up some three months ago and is closing in on 9,000 views.

And as a bit of a bonus round, here’s the latest from Sledge, where he “drops the hammer” on the Environmental Protection Agency:

There’s a clear theme running through the ads: anti-federal regulation, anti-Obama, pro-drilling. In fact, the messages in all of these ads are so similar it’s difficult to distinguish the Republican candidates.

The closest any of the candidates have come so far to actually addressing issues facing the Railroad Commission comes from the chairman himself, Barry Smitherman, who’s considered likely to win re-election to his seat:

Primary voting is on May 29, and the general election will be held November 6.

Further Reading: Serious Oil and Gas Regulators Needed in Boom Times by the Editorial Board of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram


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