Sarah Stogner, former GOP candidate for railroad commissioner, backs Democratic nominee in November’s election

Incumbent Railroad Commissioner Wayne Christian (left) and Republican primary challenger Sarah Stogner spoke during a forum hosted by the Republican Women of Red River Valley in Paris, Texas, on April 26, 2022. (Ben Torres For The Texas Tribune, Ben Torres For The Texas Tribune)

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Sarah Stogner, the former Republican candidate for railroad commissioner who forced incumbent Wayne Christian to a runoff and made waves for riding a pumpjack almost naked in a memorable campaign ad, is backing the Democratic nominee for the seat.

Stogner on Monday endorsed Luke Warford over Christian, a former state representative who was first elected to the Railroad Commission in 2016. She said in an interview that Texas’ energy industry is “too important to let corrupt career politicians stay in office, and I’m taking a stand against it.”

Stogner, an oil and gas attorney, lost to Christian by double digits in the runoff. Her campaign turned heads not only for the racy ad but also $2 million in funding she got from a West Texas rancher and friend who had been battling the Railroad Commission over abandoned oil wells on her property.

Stogner said she was supporting Warford, a former state Democratic Party staffer running on fixing the power grid, because she simply believed he would do the job better. She also said in a statement that he is not “your typical Democrat,” calling him “pragmatic and pro-business.”

"For months, Sarah Stogner lied to voters about her party affiliation and political beliefs," Christian said in a statement. "Now that Republicans have rejected her radical agenda, it is no surprise she would support her party’s nominee."

Stogner’s endorsement comes as another Democratic statewide candidate, Mike Collier, has also been picking up Republican endorsements, most recently from former Lt. Gov. Bill Ratliff on Thursday.

Asked if she still considered herself a Republican, Stogner said she felt politically “homeless” right now but is still a “conservative.” She emphasized that her endorsement of Warford does not mean she is voting for the highest-profile Democrat running statewide, gubernatorial hopeful Beto O’Rourke.

“Until we have better options, I’m not sticking to the party line,” Stogner said, referring to her attention-getting ad and expressing hope that voters would focus on policy relevant to the commission this fall. “Let’s get over the tits and look at the issues.”