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!”
Congratulations to Jim Wright.
It's been an honor and incredibly rewarding to put my experience to work for Texas. I appreciate everyone who voted for me and all of my incredible supporters and I look forward to what God has in store next!
— Ryan Sitton (@RyanSitton) March 4, 2020
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.
Thank you to everyone who came out to make sure that Texas remains at the forefront of global energy leadership. My campaign has been a grassroots campaign all the way and this win shows that Texans believe in integrity, leadership and innovation. pic.twitter.com/AqCxgLtbon
— Jim Wright (@JimWright4Texas) March 4, 2020
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.