Last week, Sarah Stogner shifted her campaigning strategy towards what many classified as unorthodox methods.
The 37-year-old Republican lawyer, who calls herself “The Unicorn”, decided to post a five-second clip of herself semi-nude atop a pump jack.
“They said I needed money. I have other assets,” she wrote in the post.
Was this a Hail Mary?
Stogner had adopted the social media app TikTok as a way to set herself apart. Her main purpose was to attract attention to leaking oil wells near her home in West Texas.
According to The Houston Chronicle, her footage of rusted wellheads and murky groundwater, often set against playful music and the occasional provocative dance, became popular enough for Stogner to use TikTok as a substitute to a statewide campaign – thus saving hundreds of thousands of dollars.
However, with early voting just around the corner and a University of Houston poll showing her only a few points behind her frontrunner, incumbent Wayne Christian, she decided to take a risk and uploaded the ad campaign video.
Since then, Stogner has received a lot of backlash.
“I knew it would be controversial,” she said to The Houston Chronicle. “I didn’t realize it would incite the rage and anger that it did from the press.”
Fellow Republicans criticized her and the San Antonio Express News has since pulled Stogner’s lone endorsement, calling it ‘disgraceful’.
“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.”
When asked, Stogner said she had no regrets, making it clear she was serious about her candidacy for Railroad Commision.
Being in the male-dominated oil and gas industry, Stogner has gotten accustomed to being objectified.
“I understand that when I walk into a room or a space people don’t assume that I’m a lawyer or that I’m competent on anything to do with oil and gas,” she said. “But I am, and have I got your attention now? So let’s put our clothes on and talk about the issues.”