When it rains, it pours. Last week Don McLeroy failed to win Senate confirmation of his nomination as Texas State Board of Education chairman. Now he’s picked up what could be a very stiff challenge to his re-election next year.
Paul Burka at Texas Monthly is reporting that Thomas Ratliff, son of former lieutenant governor Bill Ratliff, will challenge McLeroy in the 2010 Republican primary.
From Ratliff’s press release:
First, I want to thank Dr. McLeroy for his 10 years of service on the SBOE. I just simply have a different approach to working for the parents and schoolchildren of Texas. I am running because I want to work with educators and the other SBOE members to provide leadership for Texas’ neighborhood schools, help mend the fractured relationship with the Texas legislature and restore the public’s confidence in the State Board of Education.
The SBOE has become a distraction to our neighborhood schools and a liability to the Republican Party under the leadership of Dr. McLeroy. I strongly believe we need to take politics out of our kids’ education and the state board should refocus its efforts on the truly important issues facing parents, students and educators.
Ratliff and his wife, Stacy, have two children and live in Mount Pleasant in the northern part of the sprawling SBOE District 9.
The religious right is very skilled in organizing for State Board of Education races, which is why it has been able to take over the board and stage attacks on the teaching of evolution and other fringe issues. A 2008 challenge to David Bradley, another of the way-out-there members of the SBOE, didn’t come close to unseating him.
Burka doesn’t note that Bradley’s challenger was a Democrat in a heavily Republican district (much as McLeroy’s district). Even so, his point is taken. The religious right became the powerful (and destructive) force it is on the SBOE because its candidates can rely on a highly organized base and plenty of funding.
UPDATE: Please note that Texas Freedom Network’s tax-exempt status prevents us from publicly endorsing or opposing specific candidates for elected office. We will use this blog to inform readers about issues and events regarding the SBOE elections, however. We ask that readers refrain from calling for the election or defeat of specific candidates in your comments on this blog. That will help protect TFN from any legal problems.
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UPDATE II: The Web site for Don McLeroy is www.donmcleroy.com and for Thomas Ratliff is www.thomasratliff.com. Once we have it, we will post a link to Dr. McLeroy’s official campaign Web site (if he puts one up). Thanks to a reader for giving us the heads-up on Ratliff’s site.