A Texas rancher contributed $2 million to the campaign of a political unknown challenging the statewide oil and gas board seat incumbent during the week before the upcoming GOP primary.
Ashley Watt, who owns a 75,000-acre ranch in the Permian Basin, made the substantial contribution to the underdog Republican candidate Sarah Stogner, allowing the campaign to bankroll a TV ad buy promoting the lawyer’s experience fighting "the liberal anti-oil politicians — and the woke corporations bankrolling them," Texas Tribune reported.
The amount is substantial given that Republican Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, considered a powerhouse in campaign fundraising, tends to receive individual checks totaling just as much as $1 million.
Stogner, a political newcomer who shook up the primary with her last ad of herself riding a pumpjack nearly naked, is hoping that the influx of cash from Watt will allow her to pull off a major upset in the May 24 GOP primary against two-term Railroad Commission of Texas Chairman Wayne Christian. Watt and Stogner, now friends, met when the rancher hired the attorney to represent her.
"I am not a political person. I don't really care about politics," Watt said in a statement to the Tribune. "But when an old Chevron oil well blew out radioactive brine water into my drinking water aquifer, ruining my ranch and forcing me to sell my entire cattle herd, the Railroad Commission teamed up with Chevron to work against me."
"I’m tired of fake conservatives like Wayne Christian trampling on Texans’ private property rights, while lining their pockets with poorly disguised bribes," Watt added.
Christian’s campaign, meanwhile, has categorized Stogner as a secret Democrat trying to fool Republican voters. They cite how Stogner made a $25 donation to the 2018 campaign for Democrat Beto O’Rourke in his run against Republican Sen. Ted Cruz and voted for the Democratic nominee in the last Railroad Commission election.
Stogner told the Tribune the $25 donation reflects her purchase of an O'Rourke t-shirt "as a joke" and that she is "not a straight-ticket voter."