Perhaps no race in the May 27 runoff better crystallizes the Republicans’ future as the chamber of commerce party in Texas than the nomination for railroad commissioner.
Among statewide elected officials, only the comptroller has such direct contact with people doing business in Texas. The three-member Texas Railroad Commission writes regulations and adjudicates disputes for the petroleum and mining industries. One seat is up for election every two years.
Yet despite the tribunal’s influence on the Texas economy, few voters will take the time to learn the differences between presumed front-runner Wayne Christian, a deeply religious tea party politician from Center, and runner-up Ryan Sitton, a Houston engineer who founded an oil and gas services company.
That’s too bad, because they personify the schism in the Republican Party between the business wing mostly concerned with how government regulates and the religious conservatives and tea party activists more concerned about ideology.