Why does the Texas railroad commissioner want voters to know he’s the “only Christian on the ballot”?
Well, for one thing, his name is Wayne Christian, and it’s a handy way for voters headed to the polls on Nov. 8 to remember him. In his appeal to Houston TV viewers on Wednesday, Christian suggested a lot of folks don’t know what he does.
The other thing, though, is that Christian’s opponent, Luke Warford, is Jewish.
“Just remember to vote for the only Christian, by name, on the ballot for railroad commissioner.”Wayne Christian
“Just remember to vote for the only Christian, by name, on the ballot for railroad commissioner,” the Republican said, wrapping up a minute-long appeal on KPRC, a Houston area TV station, which runs a “Straight Talk from the Candidates” feature ahead of elections.
Warford and his team smelled bigotry.
“The Republican incumbent running against the only Jewish statewide Democratic candidate just told voters to ‘vote for the only Christian’ in the race,” Sam Raskin, a communications consultant to Warford’s campaign, said on Twitter.
The Republican incumbent running against the only Jewish statewide Democratic candidate just told voters to “vote for the only Christian" in the race. https://t.co/G0ZXJoU3Ef— Sam Raskin (@samraskinz) October 27, 2022
“Incumbent Wayne Christian is too focused on spouting lazy, hateful nonsense to actually do his job,” Warford tweeted.
A spokesman for Christian’s campaign said that the commissioner did not realize Warford was Jewish, and that he was apologetic for using the tagline, which he has used since he first ran for office in 1996.
“It’s a joke for people to remember,” Travis McCormick said in a call he made after this story was posted. “It was not meant to be anything more than that. And we definitely would not have said it if we realized our opponent was Jewish.”
McCormick said this was likely Christian’s last campaign and he would not use the tag again. “That is not something that will be used going forward,” McCormick said.
Warford, who grew up on the East Coast and moved to Texas several years ago, has not made his Jewishness central to his public persona. His religion is not noted on his campaign website, nor does a Google search turn up information about affiliation with synagogues or any other Jewish groups. The North Texas Jewish Democratic Council held a fundraiser for him in June, saying that they were stepping up to support a Jewish statewide candidate.
What does the railroad commissioner do?
Warford is running to unseat Christian, who was first elected in 2016. The railroad commissioner regulates utilities and the oil and gas industry — something Christian indicated in his pitch that Texas voters may not know.
“The railroad commission of Texas has nothing to do with railroads,” he said. “In fact, it’s all gas and coal.”
How well the commission is functioning is the crux of the differences between the two candidates. Christian said he was resisting pressure from the Biden administration to limit oil and gas production, saying he had “beat every environmental decree.”
“Ladies and gentlemen, it’s time we stood for our children and grandchildren and the God-given gift of oil and gas we have in Texas,” he said, adding that oil and gas energy “makes us different from the cavemen.”
Warford said Christian was in bed with the industries and was responsible in part for the lack of oversight that led utilities to crash during Winter Storm Uri in 2021.
“When disaster struck, he used this storm as an opportunity to let his campaign donors make billions in profits and pass the cost on to Texans across the state,” Warford said.