UPDATE: Nathan Bernier at Austin’s public radio station, KUT, also talked to Clayton. One thing is becoming clear: he’s not an ideologue. He calls arguments about teaching “strengths and weaknesses” of evolution just “code words for creationism.” Check out the interview here.

George Clayton‘s Republican primary victory over longtime Texas State Board of Education incumbent Geraldine “Tincy” Miller of Dallas on Tuesday stunned just about everyone. Today Kate Alexander at the Austin American-Statesman got in a few questions with Clayton, a high school administrator in Dallas. Money quote:

Given the board’s delicate balance, the question on many people’s minds is whether Clayton will ally himself with the board’s conservative bloc or the more moderate faction. Miller has often voted with the moderates on the sharply divided board.

Clayton said he wanted to avoid labeling himself — except for one.

“I want to be the leveler,” Clayton said.

Read Alexander’s full post here.Read More

First, the good news: At least two members of the Texas State Board of Education's far-right faction won't be there in 2011. Cynthia "Public Education Is a Tool of Perversion" Dunbar, R-Richmond, got so much heat for her extremism -- including outrageous attacks on public schools -- that she decided not to run for re-election. Then Don "Somebody's Got to Stand Up to the Experts" McLeroy, R-College Station, lost his re-election battle to Thomas Ratliff, R-Mountain Pleasant. Mixed news: Brian Russell, the Austin attorney Dunbar recruited to run for her seat, was forced into a Republican runoff against Marsha Farney of Georgetown. Bad news: San Antonio incumbent Ken "Dog-Cat" Mercer won his Republican primary race against challenger Tim Tuggey of Austin. That means the board's far-right faction will still have at least five and as many as six members in 2011 -- still be enough to distrupt and distract the board's attention with "culture war" nonsense. Even so, yesterday's elections -- including Bob Craig's win over a far-right challenger in West Texas -- represented a major step forward for supporters of public education in Texas. Read More

The polls in Texas (except for El Paso) closed a 7 p.m. CST. We’ll try to provide updates on the results in State Board of Education races as we get them. Below are the five big contests we’re following. (I) means incumbent.

Updated at 12:40 a.m. This is the last update of the night. The state board’s far-right faction failed to add another seat tonight when incumbent Bob Craig defeated his challenger. On the other hand, faction member Ken Mercer won his party’s renomination over challenger Tim Tuggey. The race between incumbent Don McLeroy and challenger Thomas Ratliff appeared too close to call, but Ratliff was holding on to a lead of a little more than 1,100 votes. Most of the remaining boxes are in Collin County north of Dallas. McLeroy currently leads in that county by a little more than 400 votes.

12:45 a.m. – OK, one more update. In a real stunner, it appears that incumbent Geraldine “Tincy” Miller has been defeated in the GOP primary by George Clayton. With 99% of precincts reporting, Clayton leads by more than 2,500 votes. Read more about Clayton here. And here are Clayton’s answers to questionsRead More

As we all wait for election results this evening, check out Paul Burka’s excellent essay about the State Board of Education that just went online at Texas Monthly. Money quotes:

“I do not toss around the term ‘far right’ groundlessly. Here is how retiring board member Cynthia Dunbar describes the institution of public education in her recent book, One Nation Under God: a ‘subtly deceptive tool of perversion.’ Dunbar and her allies on the SBOE have given up on public education. Rather than address how to improve public schools, they seek to slay dragons—evolution, sex education, whole language, new ways of teaching math, unpatriotic depictions of Texas and American history.”

“The bipartisan political action committee Parent PAC has emerged in the past two election cycles to back candidates who support public schools; witness its endorsement of (Thomas) Ratliff against (Don) McElroy. The Texas Freedom Network calls attention to outrages, of which there is no shortage. For many years there have been no consequences for a majority faction that has failed to put the future of Texas ahead of its personal and ideological agendas. With any luck, the majority won’t be a majority anymore.”

ReadRead More

UPDATE: A TFN Insider reader recorded the robocall noted in this post. Great work! See below. The calls apparently were paid for by Texas Alliance for Life PAC. Because of the late date, it won’t be possible to know before election day tomorrow how much this political action committee has suddenly poured into State Board of Education races. The PAC reported more than $42,000 in cash on hand on Feb. 22.

We have a report that Joe Pojman of the far-right Texas Alliance for Life is robocalling voters in the District 10 Texas State Board of Education race today. Pojman is letting voters know that Brian Russell, one of the candidates in tomorrow’s Republican primary for the board seat, is “pro-life.”

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iu0uGlJd54s&feature=player_embedded]

What in blazes does the State Board of Education have to do with abortion politics? Nothing — except for religious-right pressure groups and activists, for whom the “culture wars” are all-consuming. Telling voters about Russell’s opposition to abortion is Pojman’s way of letting religious-right voters know who should get their vote in the race for the state board seat currently held by the departing Cynthia Dunbar, R-Richmond. (Dunbar recruited Russell, an… Read More

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We can't thank Sonja enough for her six years of service with TFN. Just Texas wouldn't be what it is today without her. While Sonja's absence will be deeply felt, we wish her the best of luck as she begins a new chapter with Whole Women's Health! twitter.com/wearejus…