This Week in Texas: December 11, 2013

Posted December 11, 2013 in The Mignon Memo

The lineup for the 2014 primaries in Texas is set.  In the statewide contests, two last minute filers in the Republican primary drew attention.  U.S. Congressman Steve Stockman withdrew his filing for re-election and instead filed to challenge U.S. Senator John Cornyn in the Republican primary.  Due to this last minute action, the Republican Party of Texas has extended the filing deadline for Texas Congressional District 36 until December 16th.  Another last minute filer was former Rep. Robert Talton who filed in the Republican primary for chief justice of the Texas Supreme Court.  He will be current Chief Justice Nathan Hecht’s only opponent.  

In the Texas Senate, 15 seats are on the ballot. Eight of those districts will have contested primary elections.  In addition, Senate District 4 will be filled in a special election on May 10, 2014.  That seat was left vacant by the retirement of former Sen. Tommy Williams.  Williams’ term extended to 2016 so the winner of the special election will fill the reminder of that term. In the Texas House, all 150 seats will be on the ballot.  Roughly half of current Texas House members will be unopposed by a major party candidate.  There are 50 seats that will involve a contested primary, some of them open seats.  The remainder of incumbents escaped a primary challenge but will face an opponent in the general election next fall. 

Now that the lineups are set for the statewide races, we will begin profiling certain races each week and provide you with a summary of the candidates and their backgrounds.   

Texas Railroad Commission 

Current Commissioner Barry Smitherman is running for Texas Attorney General so four Republicans and two Democrats have filed in hopes of replacing him.  The Republicans are Wayne Christian, Malachi Boyuls, Becky Berger and Ryan Sitton.  The Democrats are Steve Brown and Dale Henry.   

Wayne Christian, an investment advisor in Center, served in the Texas House for 15 years. While serving in the Texas House, Christian served as Vice Chairman of the Regulated Industries Committee and two terms as a member of the Energy Committee.  An interesting fact about Christian is that he began his career as the lead singer and manager of a country/gospel band called the Mercy River Boys.  Malachi Boyuls of Dallas serves as a partner in St. Augustine Capital Partners, a firm focused on principal investing, brokering and consulting services for small to middle-market transactions in the oil and gas industry.  He previously worked as an attorney focusing on oil and gas law.  Boyuls previously served as an appointed member of the Texas Appraiser Licensing and Certification Board.  Becky Berger, a geologist in Schulenburg, has been active in Republican politics for several years.  She has served on the State Republican Executive Committee as well as held leadership roles in the Texas Federation of Republican Women.  Berger operates a family ranch with her husband.  Ryan Sitton of Friendswood founded PinnacleAIS, an engineering and technology company focused on reliability and integrity programs for the oil, gas, and petrochemical industries.  Sitton has also been active in local Republican Party politics and serves on Texas A&M’s Mechanical Engineering Advisory Council.  Steve Brown of Missouri City is a former Fort Bend County Democratic party chairman.  He currently works for Houston Metro is the small business initiatives division. Brown’s political experience includes working as an intern for U.S. RepSheila Jackson Lee and for Rep. Sylvester Turner (D-Houston).  Dale Henry, a retired petroleum engineer from Lampasas, is making his fifth run at a seat on the Texas Railroad Commission.  His first run was in the 2004 Republican primary.  In 2006, Henry filed as a Democrat but was defeated. He ran again in 2008 and 2012.