In perhaps the most stunning result of the evening, Railroad Commissioner Ryan Sitton was defeated in the Republican primary election Tuesday night.

The race saw Sitton, who was first elected to the three-person Railroad Commission in 2014, as the heavy favorite against the relatively unknown challenger Jim Wright.

On paper, it would appear that Sitton had the race in the bag. Sitton had the backing of statewide elected officials like Gov. Greg Abbott, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, and U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, as well as several conservative groups across the state.

The most recent campaign finance reports show Sitton also has a campaign war chest of $2.2 million, while Wright only showed less than $13,000.

But even so, Sitton appeared to do very little in the way of campaigning. In fact, voters would be excused for not realizing the position was even contested on the March ballot.

At the end of the night, Wright—a South Texas rancher and owner of an oilfield waste services company—was able to best Sitton 56 to 44 percent, winning 232 of Texas’ 254 counties.

Sitton quickly offered Wright his congratulations in a tweet, in which he thanked voters and said, “I look forward to what God has in store next!”

For his part, Wright—who had just 12 Twitter followers when the polls closed on Tuesday—also took to the platform to share his gratitude for the win.

Many have speculated that, in addition to the Sitton campaign’s lack of outreach during the primary election, Wright’s victory could have been helped by his name, which he shares with a longtime U.S. congressman from Texas who served as Speaker of the House. That Wright passed away in 2015.

The Democrat race for Railroad Commission will go to a runoff between Chrysta Castañeda and Roberto R. “Beto” Alonzo. The winner of that contest will face Wright in November.

Brandon Waltens

Brandon serves as the Managing Editor for Texas Scorecard. After managing successful campaigns for top conservative legislators and serving as a Chief of Staff in the Texas Capitol, Brandon moved outside the dome in order to shine a spotlight on conservative victories and establishment corruption in Austin. @bwaltens

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