Texas political hopeful defends campaign video where she rode oil pump semi-nude

Texas Railroad Commissioner candidate Sarah Stogner. Images from video below and TikTok.

Dan Carson

Houston Chronicle

Texas Railroad Commissioner candidate Sarah Stogner turned heads earlier this week with the release of her latest campaign video—a short TikTok in which the oil and gas lawyer is seen sitting semi-nude riding the revolutions of a pump jack.

Captioned “They said I needed money. [laughing emoji] I have other assets,” the Republican candidate’s video garnered hundreds of retweets on Twitter and more than 27,000 views on TikTok. The clip also earned the ire of the San Antonio Express-News editorial board, which dropped its support of the first-time political candidate with a blistering missive days after publicly endorsing Stogner.

“We were disappointed to see a disgraceful TikTok video posted Sunday from Sarah Stogner, whom we recently recommended in the Republican primary for railroad commissioner,” the paper’s editorial board wrote, later specifically noting that the video’s accompanying comment made it worse. “We rescind our recommendation.”

@theunicornlawyer The dried okra is back in stock! #bucees #texascheck #sarah4rrc #primaries2022 #nomnomnom #GOP #govote #dobetter #fyp ♬ Freaks & Geeks – Oliver Tree

**You can see some of Sarah’s raunchier videos here.**

The San Antonio Express News’ editorial page editor Josh Brodesky contacted Stogner on Facebook after discovering the video and questioned whether she was hacked, according to screengrabs of messages she shared with us. Once Stogner confirmed she posted the video, Brodesky informed her that the board would be rescinding its recommendation.

“Wow ok. I wish you would wait and hear what I have to say before making that decision,” Stogner said on Facebook in response. “We have radiation in our water. But me scantily clad is where the line is drawn.”

In the editorial, the board noted it never would have endorsed Stogner had she posted the ad prior to them interviewing her.

“This is an opportunity to reaffirm our principles and expectations,” the editorial board wrote. “We expect candidates for public office to model civil discourse and decorum worthy of the public’s trust. This was neither. Instead, it’s an indictment of these times that a candidate, even a marginal one, would appeal to potential voters in such way via social media…this was an embarrassing failure.”

When reached for comment, Brodesky said the editorials speak for themselves. The San Antonio Express News and Chron are both owned by Hearst Newspapers.

Stogner, 37, splits her time between a ranch in Ward County, Texas and her Houston home. She says the clip of her on a pump jack at the Ward County ranch was filmed in November of 2021 as a lark while shooting a documentary about the oil and gas industry. Stogner called the San Antonio Express-News’ abrupt withdrawal of its support disappointing.

“It feels very much like slut-shaming,” Stogner said. “We were just goofing off. We had the footage from last year and I said, ‘I’m going to make my own Super Bowl commercial.’ If I had gone off and shot machine guns and screamed about the border, they wouldn’t have had a problem with it.”

The longtime oil and gas lawyer said the incident is another example of preconceptions of how women are forced to fit into a male-dominated industry. “If me and a middle-aged dude walk on a location in field equipment, they’re going to assume he works there and I’m along for the ride,” Stogner said.

The video was largely supported on social media, with Instagram commenters filling her mentions with fire emojis and one account adding “YOU GOT OUR VOTE MAMA!” However, not everyone was impressed by the display. “Honey you don’t need to take off your clothes for votes,” said a commenter named Julie, a woman in the oil and gas industry, adding a facepalm emoji along with her thoughts.

The first-time politician also took issue with San Antonio Express-News’ vetting process, pointing out she had posted an image of herself nude facing away from the camera to Instagram and Twitter in June of 2021.

“They said they did their homework on me,” Stogner said. “Ask them if they saw my picture from last summer. It’s on Instagram. I’m naked, bare butt in the sand hills, raising awareness. It’s not sexual. But if female nudity isn’t for sexual use, I guess it’s a no-go.”

Stogner’s Republican primary opponents include Dawayne Tipton, who the San Antonio Express-News shifted its endorsement to, embattled incumbent Wayne Christian, Tom Slocum and the late Marvin “Sarge” Summers, who died in a car accident on February 8 but will remain on the ballot in March 1’s election. During her campaign, Stogner said she aimed set herself apart with her advocacy for Texas landowners, self-funding her campaign and focusing on the dangerous byproducts of corruption in the industry, including pollutants left behind by well blowouts.

“Let’s talk about Radium 226, Radium 228. Let’s talk about people dying in the freeze,” Stogner said. “Where did we go wrong in society that we’ve sexualized women to the point we can’t talk about what matters?”


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