Steve Toth: Too Extreme Even for Texas Republicans?

by Dan Quinn

Maybe sometimes a far-right politician can be too extreme even for Texas Republicans.

On Tuesday state Rep. Steve Toth, R-The Woodlands, lost big in the Republican runoff race for a Texas Senate seat north of Houston. State Rep. Brandon Creighton, R-Conroe, won in a landslide, getting about 67 percent of the vote to Toth’s 33 percent to earn the GOP nomination for the District 4 Senate seat.

Both candidates promoted their tea party bona fides during the campaign. But Toth’s record is, frankly, downright nutty. Last year, for example, Toth was a leading legislative critic of CSCOPE, the curriculum management tool created through a collaboration of state Education Service Centers. The vast majority — nearly 900 — of Texas school districts have used CSCOPE. But tea partyers and other far-right activists manufactured a witch hunt that succeeded in gutting the program. They complained that the program’s lessons were anti-American and anti-Christian and promoted Marxism and Islam. Toth bought into that nonsense and became a major backer of the witch hunt, although a State Board of Education-sponsored review later found that the politically charged claims were bogus.

Toth also tells a ridiculous story to promote his opposition to sex education that includes information about birth control. During the 2013 legislative session, Toth said his wife knew two unmarried teens who got so “hot and bothered” at a Planned Parenthood sex education class, which included information on contraception, that the guy couldn’t get a condom on before he impregnated his girlfriend in the car later. Earlier in the legislative session, one of Toth’s legislative staffers lectured a minister about morality when that minister went to Toth’s office to express her concerns about legislative budget cuts that had gutted the Texas Women’s Health Program two years earlier. Tens of thousands of low-income women lost access to family planning services because of those cuts. But Toth’s staffer worried that those services just promote sinful behavior.

Toth probably thought positions like those would win him votes in his state Senate race. Maybe they did get him some votes. But most Republican voters on Tuesday apparently weren’t buying what he was selling.