SBOE: Without Darkness, There Can Be No Light
Primary election results
Progressive and centrist Texans hoping to sweep the religious right wing out of the State Board of Education – and to end the recent national laughingstock headlines that wing has made lately – got a mixed bag of results Tuesday.
On the upside, GOP voters in District 9 (central East Texas) finally got embarrassed enough by former board Chair Don McLeroy – and his pro-creationist, anti-evolution crusade – to turn him out of office (barely). Out of 115,916 votes cast, a mere 860 were the edge in favor of moderate Thomas Ratliff, son of former Lt. Gov. Bill Ratliff. And out in the Panhandle, moderate GOP incumbent Bob Craig easily held his District 15 seat against challenger Randy Rives. On the downside, Republicans in District 12 (suburban Dallas) decided they don't like moderation and removed Geraldine "Tincy" Miller in favor of the more conservative George M. Clayton with 52% of the vote. Actually, Clayton could be a mixed bag himself: As noted by the Texas Tribune, he's (thankfully) against punishing teachers for poor results on standardized tests. He does, however, appear to be yet another creationist.
In District 5 (central Hill Country, including Travis County south of the river), the endorsements of San Antonio business leaders like H-E-B's Charles Butt and car dealer Red McCombs got challenger Tim Tuggey no traction – his challenge to far-right incumbent Ken Mercer went down in flames, 69% to 31%. Mercer will face Texas State professor Rebecca Bell-Metereau, who easily won the Democratic nomination over three others. Bell-Metereau knows she'll have a tough fight in a district drawn to favor Republicans, but she thinks Texans have lost patience with the religious extremists. "People are tired of these backward people trying to force 18th century thought on 21st century people," she said at a Democratic Party election night gathering at Serrano's in Central Austin. "I think there are ... Republicans who do not agree with the swing the Republican Party has taken. I think there are people who accept science, who accept real history, and they don't want to see that happening to their own party."
District 10 (Central Texas, including Travis County north of the river) is still up in the air: Dem Judy Jennings was unopposed, but in the GOP, voters must still decide between former educator Marsha Farney of Georgetown (35.5%) and conservative activist Brian Russell of Austin (35.3%). (McNeil High teacher Rebecca Osborne, perceived as the most moderate of the three, took 29%). Russell is the handpicked successor of right-wing zealot Cynthia Dunbar, who is stepping down after one stormy term. Farney's beliefs are hard to peg – when given the opportunity to disavow creationism last month, she would only tell the Chronicle: "My faith is not shaken by evolution. ... It should be taught as a theory."