Leo-Backed SBOE Candidate Gets Boost

Texas State Board of Education member Terri Leo’s hand-picked replacement might have a smooth path to the Republican nomination for that Houston-area seat next year.

Leo, one of the board’s most extreme right-wing members, on Monday said she would not seek re-election to the board. She instead endorsed Republican Donna Bahorich of Houston in next year’s election. Susan Kellner, president of the Spring Branch Independent School District Board of Trustees, had been preparing to challenge Leo for the GOP nomination. Today Kellner told the Austin-based political news website Quorum Report (subscription required) that she would not run and could support Bahorich:

“Terri Leo needed to go. She has failed on all fronts, and she was an embarrassment to public education in Texas. She’s mismanaged the Permanent School Fund. She’s created curriculum standards that are confusing for teachers, students and families. We need to get Texas public education back on track.”

Quorum Report notes that it had been clear for months that Kellner wanted to run against Leo:

Kellner … has been dogging eight-year incumbent Terri Leo’s steps for months, conspicuously attending State Board of Education meetings and typically sitting prominently in the audience where Leo could not help but see her.

On Friday, Kellner filed a campaign treasurer’s report, signaling her intent to run against Leo in State Board of Education District 6. On Monday, Leo threw in the towel, saying she could do so with a clear conscience because she had found a suitable conservative to replace her on the board.

Leo made clear in her Monday press release that she believes Bahorich will stick to a hard-right political agenda on the state board. That includes support for an abstinence-only approach to sex education in a state that has received more federal abstinence-only funding than any other state yet has the nation’s third-highest teen birth rate.

Teacher and Democrat Patty Quintana-Nilsson of Houston is also seeking Leo’s District 6 seat on the state board. (Bahorich does not have a campaign website yet.)

You can find a listing of candidates and other information on TFN’s special SBOE election watch web page here.