But not as a Republican. This could be interesting.
Sarah Stogner announced Saturday at The Texas Tribune Festival that she is mounting her second campaign for the Texas Railroad Commission — this time, leaving the Republican Party to run as a third-party candidate.
Stogner, a 39-year-old oil and gas attorney, made headlines in 2022 with a campaign announcement video that featured her semi-nude on top of an oil pumpjack. Her underdog campaign picked up enough momentum — and a $2 million donation from a West Texas rancher — to propel Stogner into a Republican runoff with incumbent Wayne Christian.
Christian, who Stogner accused of corruption during the campaign, won that race with 65% of the vote. In the general election, Stogner endorsed Democratic nominee Luke Warford, who Christian defeated with more than 55% of the vote.
On Saturday Stogner said she plans to run under the banner of the Forward Party, a centrist political party co-founded by former presidential candidate Andrew Yang. Stogner is the first announced statewide candidate aligned with the party.
Corruption within the Texas GOP led her to join the Forward Party, Stogner said.
“I posted on social media about the acquittal of [Texas Attorney General] Ken Paxton. Since I called out the corruption, some people responded that I must be a Democrat,” Stogner said. “How sad is that? Like, there’s nothing conservative about corruption.”
New political parties need a certain number of qualified voters’ signatures to qualify for inclusion on a Texas ballot. If she makes the ballot, Stogner will challenge current Railroad Commission Chair Christi Craddick next fall. Members of the three-person commission serve staggered, six-year terms, the longest term of any statewide elected position.
See here for more about Stogner’s well-publicized primary campaign, and here for more about Stogner’s endorsement of Luke Warford. I have to admit, I’d forgotten that the Forward Party was still a thing. I just haven’t seen much news about it lately, and the last thing I remember seeing was some blathering about it by the unescapable Bill King.
We’ll see if Stogner, who I believe is well-intentioned, or anyone else that might want to carry the Forward Party banner is able to collect the signatures needed to get on the ballot. A recent federal court ruling may make it easier for them, though the Forward Party was not involved in that suit. On the one hand, the net effect of her getting onto the ballot may make it easier for the Democratic nominee to win, since Stogner may end up taking more votes that would have gone to incumbent Christie Craddick and thus lower the threshold needed to win, perhaps to under fifty percent. On the other hand, the Dems in these further downballot races have tended to lag the top of the ticket, with more voter dropoff and third-party voting being the culprits. That’s a branding problem, which might be lessened in a Presidential year context but which could certainly use an infusion of campaign cash and voter outreach to fight it off. I lean slightly towards this helping the Dem nominee, but it’s not a slam dunk by any means. Reform Austin has more.