One of the most divisive members of the Texas State Board of Education‘s far-right faction survived a tough re-election fight in his Republican primary on Tuesday. Candidates in the two other contested primary races for seats on state board are headed to May 27 runoffs.

Incumbent David Bradley, R-Beaumont Buna, defeated challenger Rita Ashley of Beaumont in the Republican primary for the District 7 state board seat. First elected to his board seat in 1996, Bradley defeated Ashley by about 10 percentage points despite being outspent by about 10-1. Although herself a conservative who has worked for key Republican legislators, Ashley faced an uphill climb in a Republican primary electorate dominated by radical tea party and religious-right activists.

Bradley insists that separation of church and state isn’t a key constitutional principle, rejects the theory of evolution and opposes responsible sex education. His defeat would have been a major blow to the board’s far-right bloc, which has lost several key members since its peak strength before the 2010 elections.

In the District 11 race in and around Fort Worth, incumbent Pat Hardy appears headed to a runoff against tea party activist Eric Mahroum. Unofficial returns showed Hardy with 49.57… Read More

We told you Monday that a religious-right group’s voter guide reveals that several Republican candidates in Texas State Board of Education elections this year think government shouldn’t be responsible for making sure all children get an education. The same candidates also support shifting tax dollars from public to private schools. So it might not be surprising to hear that their hostility to public education is matched by their disdain for science and separation of church and state.

According to answers in the voter guide, District 7 incumbent David Bradley, R-Beaumont Buna, and Fort Worth challengers Eric Mahroum and Lady Theresa Thombs in the District 11 Republican primary all support teaching “intelligent design”/creationism in public schools. They also want biology textbooks to teach creationist arguments about so-called “weaknesses” of evolution. District 11 incumbent Pat Hardy, R-Fort Worth, indicated that she opposes teaching both “intelligent design” and those discredited “weaknesses” arguments.

All of those candidates, including Hardy, say the Ten Commandments should be displayed in public school buildings, that marriage is a union of one man and one woman and that “no government has the authority to alter this definition.”) They also “strongly agree” that “the more people live by… Read More

You might think that all of the candidates seeking election to the body that oversees the public education system in Texas would actually support public education. But candidate answers in a religious-right group’s voter guide this month suggest you would be wrong.

At least three Republican candidates — including one incumbent — in this year’s Texas State Board of Education elections say they “strongly disagree” that “it is the government’s responsibility to be sure children are properly educated.” The same candidates also say they “strongly agree” that “free market competition for education dollars” would be better than a “government monopoly.” “Free market competition” is the core argument for advocates of private school vouchers, which take tax dollars from public schools to pay tuition for students admitted to private and religious schools.

District 7 incumbent David Bradley, R-Beaumont Buna, and District 11 Republican candidates Eric Mahroum and Lady Theresa Thombs, both of Fort Worth, all take those positions in the voter guide from Texas Values. Texas Values is the Austin-based lobby arm of Liberty Institute, a religious-right litigation group headquartered in Plano north of Dallas. (Actually, it appears that the voter guide is part of a nationally coordinated project… Read More

Don McLeroy, who infamously declared that “somebody’s gotta stand up to experts” in the debate over teaching evolution in public school science classrooms, has waded into a key Texas State Board of Election (SBOE) election contest. Eric Mahroum announced on Jan. 29 that the creationist former SBOE chair is backing his challenge to incumbent Pat Hardy in the District 11 Republican Primary. Lady Theresa Thombs is the third GOP candidate in that North Texas race.

Mahroum’s website quotes McLeroy as charging that Hardy “disqualified herself to serve” on the SBOE by supporting a proposal in 2011 to allow voters to decide whether to transfer $2 billion from the Permanent School Fund (PSF) to the state’s public education budget. McLeroy’s claims that Hardy “acted irresponsibly” by “encouraging a massive raid” on the PSF, which funds textbooks. The proposal’s supporters argued at the time that voters should be able to decide whether to use PSF money to soften the blow of billions of dollars in devastating cuts state lawmakers ultimately made to the state budget for public schools.

But no one should be fooled here: the real issue here for McLeroy isn’t the PSF. He really opposes Hardy’s… Read More

With just a month go before the March 4 primary elections, challenger Rita Ashley is outspending — by far — incumbent David Bradley in the Republican primary race for the Texas State Board of Education (SBOE) District 7 seat in Southeast Texas.

Ashley lost to Bradley in the 2012 GOP primary. She is a former schoolteacher and has worked both as the clerk for the Texas House Public Education Committee and as district director for Republican state Sen. Tommy Williams.

Campaign finance reports show that she has loaned her campaign $75,500 since July of last year and has raised more than $10,000 in contributions. That has allowed her campaign to spend nearly $75,000 so far. She reported more than $15,000 in cash on hand in her most recent report. All candidates were required to file finance reports by Monday, Feb. 3, 30 days before the primary.

In contrast, Bradley has spent about $3,000 and reported $1,360.12 in cash on hand. His campaign had $2,400 in outstanding loans, according to his finance report.

A leader of the SBOE’s  far-right faction, Bradley won election to the board in 1996. SBOE Chair Barbara Cargill, R-The Woodlands, has given Bradley’s campaign… Read More

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