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Another race to watch

There’s one statewide race this year, for Railroad Commissioner. The incumbent, Victor Carrillo, was appointed by Rick Perry to finish out Tony Garza’s term. He’s now facing opposition in the Republican primary, and the GOP establishment is going all out for him.

Presidential adviser Karen Hughes endorsed Railroad Commission Chairman Victor Carrillo on Friday in the GOP establishment’s latest effort to give him a boost in a four-way primary election race.


In the primary, Carrillo faces Douglas G. Deffenbaugh of San Antonio, president of an oil and gas service company; retiree Robert Butler of Palestine; and K. Dale Henry, a Mullin engineer.

The winner will face Democrat Bob Scarborough of Fort Worth.

Hughes described Carrillo — a geologist, geophysicist, energy lawyer and former Abilene City Councilman and Taylor County judge — as “exceptionally well qualified for this job.”

With the GOP working to attract Hispanic voters, Hughes also cast him as the party’s future.

“The future of the party is reaching out to more Hispanic candidates, to women, to African Americans to diversify our party,” she said. “The Hispanic community is a very important constituency.”

Deffenbaugh responded, “I think the future of the Republican Party is staying true to our conservative ideals of less taxes and less government — and putting small oil and gas operators out of business is not staying true to our conservative values.”

Deffenbaugh said such operators are hurt by a requirement for oil and gas well operators to have a bond to ensure they have the money to plug wells when they’re done with them.

The requirement, aimed at ensuring wells aren’t abandoned, is required in state law. The law is implemented by the commission.

The reason for all this top-dog attention to Carrillo is that the GOP would very much like to avoid a rerun of 2002, when Steven Wayne Smith, a less qualified candidate with vocal and embarrassing views on race defeated the Perry-appointed Xavier Rodriguez in the primary for State Supreme Court, a result which put a bit of a crimp in their Hispanic outreach program. I don’t believe any of Carrillo’s opponents are as notorious as Smith, who was the litigator in the Hopwood case, and none of them have such an evocative name, but apparently the powers that be aren’t taking any chances. The wailing and gnashing of teeth potential if Carrillo goes down is very high.

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  1. Inquiring Mind says:

    Does the Democrat have any chance to win this race?

  2. About as much as any other statewide race at this time, which is to say not very much. Very few people know or care who the Railroad Commish is, so I’d expect that the vast majority of votes cast in this race will be done strictly by party affiliation. Needless to say, with the Presidential race at the top of the ballot, that makes the R a very heavy favorite.