Barry Thomas Smitherman (born c. 1957) is one of three current members of the Texas Railroad Commission, all of whom are Republicans. He was appointed this position on July 8, 2011 by Governor Rick Perry to fill the position vacated by Republican Michael L. Williams, a candidate for the United States House of Representatives. A fourth generation Texan, Smitherman is a candidate in the Republican runoff election scheduled for July 31, 2012, for the two years remaining in Williams' unexpired term on the panel, which regulates not railroads but the oil and natural gas industries. [1]


Smitherman graduated from Ross S. Sterling High School in Baytown, Texas. He then received a Bachelor of Business Administration from Texas A&M University at College Station. Thereafter, he obtained his Juris Doctor from the University of Texas School of Law in Austin, while he worked at the state capitol for a state senator, Lindon Williams, a Democrat. Smitherman further received a Master of Public Administration degree from the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. There he was awarded the first Joel Leff Fellowship in Political Economy.[2]

Smitherman was reared in a working class neighborhood on the east side of Houston. He began a career in banking, but because of uncertainty in that field, he instead became a prosecutor in the Harris County District Attorney’s office, where he pursued convictions of a wide range of criminal defendants. In 2004, Governor Perry named Smitherman to the Texas Public Utility Commission. He became the chairman of that body in 2007. At the PUC, he was charged with ending unnecessary programs and managing one of the fastest growing electricity markets in the world.

Railroad Commission

After seven years, Smitherman left the PUC to become Railroad Commissioner, in which capacity he continues to purse efficiency in the energy sector. The Railroad Commission regulates pipeline transporters, the liquid petroleum industry, and coal (lignite) and uranimun surface mining operations. The commission pursues alternative fuel research. It has regulatory and enforcement responsibilities under federal law, including the Surface Coal Mining Control and Reclamation Act, the Safe Drinking Water Act, the Pipeline Safety Act, and the Resource Conservation Recovery Act. [3]

In the upcoming primary runoff, Smitherman faces a challenge from his fellow conservative Greg Parker, a Comal County commissioner and an African American. In the primary, Smitherman had led Parker, 44 to 28 percent, but failed to win the required outright majority for nomination.[4]

Another candidate, Jaime Perez, is seeking the position as a Libertarian in the November 6 general election.[5]

If he is elected this year, Smitherman must run again for the seat for a full six-year term in 2014. He currently serves on the commission with David J. Porter of Lee County, who unseated former commissioner Victor G. Carrillo in the Republican primary in 2010, and Buddy Garcia of Austin, an interim commissioner whose term expires at the end of 2012. Garcia was appointed in April 2012, after Elizabeth Ames Jones of San Antonio resigned to wage an unsuccessful intraparty challenge to State Senator Jeff Wentworth in the 2012 Republican primary.

Smitherman has been endorsed for a full term by Attorney General Greg Abbott, who describes his fellow Republican as "an unyielding ally in the fight against the Obama administration's onerous regulations against energy producers. We need him on the Texas Railroad Commission to fight the EPA bureaucrats and stop their assault on American energy independence."[6]

Personal life

Williamson and his wife reside in Austin. They have four children, two of whom were attending Texas A&M in 2012. The Smithermans are active members of Lake Hills Church.


This article uses material from the Wikipedia article Barry Smitherman, that was deleted or is being discussed for deletion, which is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
Author(s): DGG Search for "Barry Smitherman" on Google
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