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No industry is more vital to the Texas economy than oil and gas; bad regulatory decisions there ripple outward, affecting the state’s 27 million citizens. This makes it imperative that Texans elect a right-thinking commissioner to the agency overseeing the industry.

The differences between Gary Gates and Wayne Christian couldn’t be more stark in the 2016 run-off for the GOP nomination to the Texas Railroad Commission.

Gates’ business defaulted on a million-dollar taxpayer loan. A district judge found credible evidence that Gates “may very well have” abused his kids. He has run for office six times, and lost each time. Having once portrayed himself as a conservative, Gates has cozied up to the liberal Austin establishment in his latest bid for office. Indeed, Gates’ endorsements come exclusively from cronies of House Speaker Joe Straus.

On the other hand, Wayne Christian is a proven leader who has earned accolades from fiscal and social groups for his dedication to governing as a conservative. Christian opposed the Capitol cronyism that has come to be the hallmark of the Texas House leadership.

Christian has been endorsed by every conservative group in the state: Young Conservatives of Texas, Texans for Fiscal Responsibility, Texas Right to Life, Texas Values, Texas Home School Coalition, and the list goes on and on. He’s reviled by the left, and revered by conservative activists.

Even the oil and gas industry itself has lined up for Christian, as they look for a competent commissioner who will fairly consider the myriad of issues important to keeping the Texas economy moving strong.

Indeed, Gates has come out against the Texas coal industry and parroted the liberal line by tying energy production to “climate change.” No matter how “conservative” he tries to sound in last-minute radio ads and campaign mailers, Gates has made it clear he doesn’t share Texans’ conservative values. Gary Gates will be a train wreck on the railroad commission.

Gates has a record of losing elections and embracing cronyism. Wayne Christian is a conservative who will fight to protect taxpayers and the state’s economy.