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

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

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

New campaign finance reports show that one of the most prominent members of the Texas State Board of Education‘s far-right faction is being heavily outspent in his bid for re-election to the board seat he has held since 1996.

District 7 incumbent David Bradley, R-Beaumont Buna, reported spending just under $15,000 in the period from April 19 to May 20, according to his latest campaign finance report, which was due to the Texas Ethics Commission on Monday. He reported getting about $2,300 in contributions and a $500 loan he made to his campaign, but he had just $7.20 left in his campaign account.

Bradley’s opponent in the May 29 GOP primary, Rita Ashley of Beaumont, reported spending more than $48,000 over the same period. She got nearly $8,000 in contributions. More significantly, however, Ashley loaned her campaign $43,000 and had more than $23,000 left in her campaign account.

In campaign finance reports for the period of January 1 to April 19, Ashley also outspent Bradley almost 3-1 — $36,194 compared to $13,294. Although Ashely loaned her campaign $10,500 during that period, she also edged Bradley in campaign contributions, nearly $24,000 to about $21,500.

Still, Bradley likely has an… Read More

In the 1990s, San Antonio businessman James Leininger — the religious right’s sugar daddy in Texas — poured hundreds of thousands of dollars into State Board of Education (SBOE) races. That money helped hard-right social conservatives build a multi-year campaign to take control of the board — and turned subsequent board debates over textbooks and curriculum standards into divisive “culture war” battles that put politics ahead of education. But new campaign finance reports — which cover contributions and expenditures for January 1-April 19 — to the Texas Ethics Commission show that far less money is flowing (so far) into most election contests for all 15 SBOE seats this year. Moreover, Leininger hasn’t contributed any money (so far) to candidates in those races.

In the District 12 Republican primary, Geraldine “Tincy” Miller, R-Dallas, is spending a lot of her own money to win back her old state board seat, which she lost to George Clayton, R-Richardson, in 2010. Miller’s spending tops that of all SBOE candidates, by far. She reported nearly $93,000 in campaign expenditures over the first four months of this year. That’s in addition to the $41,000 she spent in the last six months of… Read More

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