South Texas rancher and businessman Jim Wright will be the state’s next oil and gas regulator. Wright will serve on the three-member Railroad Commission, which regulates energy resources in the state.
Wright was able to score 53.2% of the vote, or over 800,000 more votes than the challenger Chrysta Castaneda.
In March, Wright defeated Republican incumbent Ryan Sitton in the GOP primaries in what many insiders believed was a political upset.
Castañeda was backed by New York billionaire Michael Bloomberg, several global environmental groups, and Democrat donors far and wide. They portrayed the race to be “the most important environmental race in the country.”
Castañeda made issues like reigning in flaring a cornerstone of her campaign. In mid-October, The Southside Light News and journalist Matt Pierce Briscoe uncovered information showing the Castaneda actually defended several of the biggest flaring companies in the state showing discrepancies with her logic and platform.
On Tuesday evening, Wright gathered with his family, political team and small group of friends at his ranch in South Texas to await the results. State media had largely ignored Wright on Tuesday just like they had done through the campaign. Not even the local Corpus Christi media found it important enough to attend the event. For the most part, even they had turned their back on Wright by having endorsed his opponent. In the end, Wright prevailed with the win.
Wright was outspent and outstaffed throughout the entire campaign but along with political consultant Steve Ray, Wright was able gather more than ample support even though it was not until the wee hours of the morning that the team was comfortable with how the results were going.
At the end of the night, Wright was excited and visibly emotional as his wife and children stood by his side as Ray delivered the news that they were comfortably ahead with most of the precincts counted.
“Ya’ll don’t know how much this means to me,” Wright told supporters. “I am just excited to get to work for the people of Texas.”
On Wednesday morning, Ray confirmed that Castaneda had called Wright to concede the race and had said that Wright had already begun the process of getting to work.
Wright was elected to a six-year term along with Christi Craddick and Wayne Christian.
Overall, Wright and the Texas Railroad Commission will play a big role in how the energy industry recovers from coronavirus and the recent OPEC spat with Russia. One of Wright’s keystone initiatives is working to expand getting natural gas to markets.