Democratic railroad commission candidate Chrysta Castañeda announced a $3.7 million fundraising haul this past month.
More than half of the campaign cash came from a $2.6 million contribution from New York billionaire and former presidential candidate Mike Bloomberg. Another $500,000 came from Richard and Dee Lawrence, the founders of emissions reduction crowdfunding site Cool Effect. The Sierra Club, an environmental group, donated $90,000 to the campaign and has pledged another $125,000.
“This campaign has been called the most important environmental race in the country, so I am grateful to be receiving such an unprecedented level of support,” Chrysta said in a prepared statement. “It has allowed us to place television ads all over the state. Most Texans have no idea what the Railroad Commission does, so we’re committed to educating them about its significance for every Texan.”
“Chrysta Castañeda will be a champion for Texans – her commitment to improving people’s lives is clear,” said Mike Bloomberg in a statement. “I’m glad to support Chrysta in her campaign to be the next Railroad Commissioner, because she has the vision and experience needed to build a safer, healthier, and more environmentally prosperous future for the state of Texas.”
Texas Railroad Commission is a three-person board and influential state agency that regulates oil and gas in the state. It has been entirely made up of Republicans for more than two decades.
Castañeda has promised to crack down on illegal flaring, the burning of unused natural gas, to fight climate change in the state. Two major environmental groups, the Sierra Club and Clean Water Action, have endorsed her.
A poll in August found Castañeda in a tight race with Jim Wright, her Republican opponent.
In a unique conflict of interest, Wright is facing multiple lawsuits relating to his oil and gas waste disposal company. Major oil and gas PACs have lined up behind him, including Apache, Phillips 66, Koch Industries, Haliburton, and Valero. A watchdog report earlier this month found Wright had recieved at least $497,422 from more than 75 oil and gas industry companies since March — placing doubt on his pledge to bring back integrity to the commission, which has long faced allegations of corruption relating to campaign finance.
Photo: Hays County Democratic Party
Fernando covers Texas politics and government at the Texas Signal. Before joining the Signal, Fernando spent two years at the Houston Chronicle and previously interned at Houston’s NPR station News 88.7. He is a graduate of the University of Houston, Jack J. Valenti School of Communication, and enjoys reading, highlighting things, and arguing on social media. You can follow him on Twitter at @fernramirez93 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org