Split Decision by Voters in Texas SBOE Primary Contests

Tuesday’s primary elections don’t seem – at this point – to have shifted the ideological balance of power on the State Board of Education (SBOE) despite the defeat of three incumbents. That’s a concern because the state board is scheduled to adopt new science textbooks in 2013 and new social studies textbooks in 2014, and both subjects have been at the center of some of the most divisive and controversial battles among board members.

The truth is we didn’t see a trend, ideological or otherwise, in the election results. Two Republican incumbents and one Democratic incumbent lost. Moreover, four of nine candidates – including one of the Republican incumbents – backed by religious-right groups lost.

On the other hand, four religious-right candidates won. Another is headed to a runoff election in July (as are Democrats in at least one race). Click here to find a full list of SBOE candidates and winners from yesterday’s elections. Below is a summary of what happened:

  • Incumbent Gail Lowe lost her bid for re-election in the Republican contest for the District 14 seat. Lowe is a member of the board’s far-right faction who served as board chair during the controversial adoption of heavily politicized social studies standards in 2010.
  • Three other religious-right candidates lost in their GOP primaries: Veronica Anzaldua (District 1), Randy Stevenson (District 9) and Jeff Fleece (District 10)
  • Four religious-right candidates won in their GOP primaries: incumbent and current board chair Barbara Cargill (District 8), incumbent Ken Mercer (District 5), incumbent David Bradley (District 7) and candidate Marty Rowley (District 15).
  • Gail Spurlock, a religious-right candidate in District 12, made it into a runoff against former SBOE member Geraldine “Tincy” Miller.

Unfortunately, last night’s outcome won’t bring a sea change at the state board. There almost certainly will still be too many board members who put their personal and political agendas ahead of education when the board adopts new science and social studies textbooks over the next two years. Even so, the November elections could still make a difference in the overall balance of power on the board.

The runoff in the District 12 Republican Primary and the District 2 Democratic Primary is set for July 31. If you haven’t already, sign our pledge to help get politics out of our public school classrooms.

11 thoughts on “Split Decision by Voters in Texas SBOE Primary Contests

  1. My ghast is flabbered that so many of us Texans continue to vote these religious right candidates into what will most certainly continue to be the State Board of Embarrassment. Can someone out there explain why this keeps happening? I’d most certainly appreciate insight from y’all.

  2. Rubin, the answer is simple, unfortunately. Just place an “R” next to your name and you will succeed. I spent a good deal of time recently with a wonderful, engaging person with a long history of support of the public schools in her area. She has a daughter and son-in-law that are both educators. She was clueless about the activities of the SBOE, votes straight Republican and resides in a district with one of the most virulent social conservatives as her representative. She has repeatedly voted for this person since that candidate is listed as a Republican. In Texas, that’s all it takes!

  3. @Rubin – because only the people who are dedicated to politics vote in the primaries, and right wing religious people are often in this camp.
    I told two friends who care about education, one of whom has a child in public school, that Tuesday was an important day for them to vote, and that they should vote in the GOP primary, to vote down the voucher program and vote out the religious nuts.
    The mother let my request go in one ear and out the other, and the other friend voted in the Democratic primary (which she was glad she did, since WE had a proposal to raise taxes in order to fund college for everyone.)

    Hope that is insight enough.

  4. I can explain some of it:

    1) Many people who vote do so for odd reasons. For example, my now deceased mother believed that whichever candidate is the most handsome should be elected.

    2) Many people know little about the candidates but vote by name recognition. People like Cargill and Mercer have deep historical name recognition. Name recognition is hard to beat unless your opponent has similarly powerful name recognition with the public.

    3) And none of you are going to like this one. The Religious Right has an iron grip on the people of Texas. The public has been thoroughly snookered as Texas churches and religious groups have been effectively politicized and propagandized as Tom Weyrich always dreamed. The 1979 takeover of the Southern Baptist Convention by conservative forces pretty much assured what you are seeing now. It is no ideological coincidence that Paige Patterson and Paul Pressler reside in Texas.

    4) In my honest opinion, and I will even give this one to Barbara Cargill so she can gloat while she celebrates her victory, the Religous Right now OWNS four states. I want to emphasize that word OWN. They OWN these four states, and the great majority of the ordinary people who live in them, just as surely as the NSDAP owned Germany and its people ideologically in 1932. Those four states are: Texas, Tennessee, Kansas, and Oklahoma. Forty-six left to go.

    5) Dan Quinn is not going to like me saying this, but the Texas Freedom Network really is out of step with the great majority of people in Texas. However, that is only because that majority of people has been thoroughly duped by a massive program of lies, distortions, and propaganda—just as the German people were. However, in Texas and these other states, it is the preachers in the churches that are lying to and misleading the people—and the people just believe the falsehhods without question because they are coming from church leaders who are not supposed to lie or distort. Who would even believe it possible that a preacher of the gospel might be lying, distorting, or totally deceived himself by a false ideology served up by Satan on a gold platter? This has been the hallmark of the Religious Right’s success.

    Jesus said:

    “Enter you in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leads to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leads to life, and few there be that find it. Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.” (Matthew 7:13-15)

    Jesus was of course speaking of himself. However, He was also speaking of something else with which He had great personal experience. He was speaking of the tyranny of the religious majority—or the prevailing religious establishment—the one that killed him by nailing him to a tree. There is a warning here from Jesus himself. Look around yourself carefully and identify whether you are a member of a “religious majority.” If you are, there is an excellent chance that you have made a wrong turn somewhere and you are on the road to destruction. Why is that?

    If something is corrupt, it is the nature of the dark side of the human heart to flock to it. People will come in droves because some aspect of it satisfies the deepest longings of the “old man” within and his need to have his lusts satisfied. If you look at the true nature of Jesus and his teachings, they repel this “old man” and people in general. Jesus says turn the other cheek. The old man says, “Smack the crap out of him, and if he tries to get up, kick him.” The latter sentiment is at the heart of all that the Religious Right says and does. This mode of relating to our fellow man fits very welll with the cowboy heritage of Texas, and many there be that go in thereat. However, it is not the way of Jesus. It is the broad road that leads to destruction, and Texans Christians are walking it in droves with great pride and signs held high.

    If you are a member of a religious majority: BEWARE. The religious majority killed Jesus, his disciples, and the apostles.

  5. Thanks to y’all. You guys are the greatest! Wish I could have all of you over for smoker/BBQ.
    But back to the matter @ hand. Your responses confirmed many of my suspicions and clarified important points. (I’ve been around the block a time or two.) As you might have already guessed, I’m originally from way up north,land of very tall evergreens & incessant drizzle. During my time in TX I’ve noticed that religion is big business & I mean BIG BUSINESS. There’s a lot of money & prime real estate involved. Very well educated people I know tenaciously cling to biblical teachings to explain life & physics. (When scriptures were written, there weren’t the “tools” available that we have now. I used to work in biotechnology. Many scientists I knew were unaplogetic athiests. What they’re discovering in that field is growing exponentially. To me it’s irresponsible to to deprive students of the wonder of these discoveries. Additionally, teaching what has been termed “American Exceptionalism” — sugar coating history >> good, bad & ugly is equally egregious. Most dominant cultures are guilty of atrocities – not just us. We’re not unique in that regard. I have much more to say on this topic but I gotta get back to work. Thanks again for your comments/insight.

  6. Those of us in SBOE District 5 have the opportunity to support, contribute, vote for and elect Rebecca Bell-Metereau. Grass roots techniques are what most of us have to work with so let’s get to work. The counties of District 5 are: Blanco, Burnet, Caldwell, Comal, Gillespie, Guadalupe, Hayes, Kendall, Llano, part of Bell, Bexar, Travis and due to redistricting my county–Kerr. Roll up your sleeves!

  7. Like many people I paid no attention to the school board elections until The New York Times magazine had a centerpiece article about the incumbant’s right wing views. For the first time he lost in a landslide in my very republican district. People don’t know or pay attention to the school board elections. I looked on the TFN website before voting in the republican primary, but the day before there were still no recommendations. I did not check on the day of voting. There needs to be extensive press coverage of the school board candidates. I have a friend who is very pro-choice as is her husband. Yet they vote for Culberson who is a member of their church b/c they vote for “the whole man” and not just one issue. I begged them to write him and tell him they supported choice as do many of his constituents. They “don’t do that sort of thing.” culberson’s office believes that most of his constituents are pro life when most voted for him b/c he is against any new taxes. We live in an affluent district. I don’t know anyone who voted for him b/c they like his position on “choice.” At the very least you need to urge Culberson’s constituents as well as those in similar districts to write their congressmen about their views. If Culberson did a poll in his district, he’d learn that most are pro-choice. Even tho he wants more unwanted babies, he does not vote for more funds for food stamps, education, health, AFDC, counseling, therapy or prisons. We will certainly need more prisons for all the unwanted children who grow into maladjusted adults. I am an independant voter who votes for the candidate. Knowing that only republicans win statewide offices in Texas, I chose to vote in the Republican primary so that maybe I will have some choice. I voted for the more moderate candidates. I sugest that others who consider themselves moderates or independants do the same.

  8. Can anybody fill us in on who the heck Marisa B. Perez is? Having won the Democratic primary, she’s likely to represent District 3 for at least 2 years.

    I’m sorry to see George Clayton go. He’s been a very good SBOE member. The best we can hope for is a return to Tincy Miller, who wasn’t nearly as good. (Gail Spurlock would be a disaster.)

    I’m also sorry to see Bob Craig step down, especially to be replaced by Marty Rowley. Score one for the bad guys.

    On the good side, Sue Melton will be a good addition to the SBOE, if her website is any indication. Congratulations for knocking off Gail Lowe!

    District 10 made me proud, SOUNDLY rejecting Jeff Fleece. Rebecca Osborne would be a good SBOE member, and from what I’ve heart Tom Maynard would be OK. IMO, Judy Jennings would be better than either, but I don’t think she has much of a chance in November.

    1. Lorenzo — thanks for your comment. I’m in dist. 10. I had the chance to sit dow & talk w. Rebecca. She’s very good. She’s observed that way too many candidates run for SBOE as a stepping stone to higher (paid!) offices. Also, the “culture wars” are a distraction from important issues/decisions — what an understatement! I asked Mr. Maynard a question via e-mail before Christmas — no response. Rebecca is the only one of all dist. 10 candidates who responded. In the general, I’ll vote for Judy Jennings. This entire SBOE >> Texas has lit a fire under me. It’ good that y’all are trying to make more people aware that this is important.

      1. I regret that I have not seen the e-mail you are referencing. I have searched my e-mail inboxes and have not found it. However, I would be more than happy to address any further inquiries you may have concerning my candidacy for the State Board of Education. —Tom Maynard

        1. Sir: Thanks for the response. I voted early last week. Perhaps my e-mail to you didn’t “take.” I may have made a mistake in address, but it didn’t “bounce back.” Which ever of you – Rebecca or you — make it to the general, best of luck to you and my sincere wish to the winner to focus on pure science and accurate history. Cheers.