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… Read More

Monday afternoon Texas Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst performed a feat only politicians seem able to do on a regular basis, at least with a straight face. He denounced politicizing an issue that he was holding a press conference to politicize:

“This issue is about teaching Texas children. I personally have a problem with any effort to politicize this process. It is an affront to these families, and Texas families across the state, and the values we hold dear as Texans.”

Oh please. About the only thing missing from this press conference was a ritual book burning.

Dewhurst was flanked at the press conference by tea party and other political activists — the same ones he and Sen. Dan Patrick have been courting in their coming Republican primary battle. Patrick and Dewhurst have competed in recent months to see which one can pretend to be the most outraged — OUTRAGED! — by classroom lessons written by current and retired Texas teachers (known radicals, of course).

On Monday, Dewhurst repeatedly charged that those CSCOPE lessons are plagued by “errors” and “bias.” He offered zero examples. Do “the values we hold dear as Texans” include promoting unsubstantiated smears and falsehoods to… Read More

TFN Insider is pleased to present this guest post from Rev. Beth Ellen Cooper of Northwoods Unitarian Universalist Church in The Woodlands north of Houston. Rev. Cooper participated in TFN’s clergy gathering in March in support of women’s access to birth control and state funding for family planning. She blogs regularly for the Houston Chronicle at Keep the Faith. Rev. Cooper also posted on TFN Insider about her experience in being lectured on morality by legislative staffers at the Texas Capitol.

Last Thursday, I attended a meeting of the Montgomery County Texas Eagle Forum, which featured reports on the latest special sessions of the Texas Legislature from state representatives Steve Toth, R-The Woodlands; Brandon Creighton, R-Conroe; and Cecile Bell Jr., R-Magnolia. This forum of ultra-conservatives was a proverbial lion’s den for a religious progressive like myself. But I am firm believer that there is no progress without dialogue, and no dialogue is possible if you don’t show up to ask the questions.

Besides. They sent an invitation to my church. It seemed rude not to accept.

So I went, in clerical collar, prepared to… Read More

A reporter from the Houston Chronicle/San Antonio Express-News Capitol bureau caught a Texas legislator arguing Tuesday night that sex education gets previously chaste teens so “hot and bothered” that they can’t even use contraception correctly after rushing out the door to do some unauthorized field testing.

Check out the audio clip of the conversation among state Rep. Steve Toth, R-The Woodlands, state Rep. Bill Zedler, R-Arlington, and state Rep. Donna Howard, D-Austin. The three were speaking just minutes after the House State Affairs Committee approved legislation with extreme abortion restrictions that could cause most of the state’s clinics to close. Rep. Howard was explaining to her colleagues that responsible sex education, including information on birth control, would lower the number of unplanned pregnancies and abortions. Rep. Toth didn’t agree:

“My wife worked at a home for unwed moms, and one of the little kids that was born, his name is David. David came about as a result of his mom and dad, who were just 16 at the time, going to a Planned Parenthood deal where they taught them how to use contraceptives. They were not sexually active at that point. They got into the car, and they… Read More

UPDATE: The Texas House gave final passage to SB 1406 this morning. The bill now goes to Gov. Perry for his signature or veto.


State Rep. Steve Toth’s commitment on Monday to pull down the CSCOPE bill he is sponsoring in the Texas House of Representatives had a shelf life of less than 12 hours. So the anti-CSCOPE witch hunt continues.

Rep. Toth, R-The Woodlands, made his commitment when he spoke at state Sen. Dan Patrick’s Monday morning press conference on the CSCOPE curriculum management system. Sen. Patrick announced at that press conference that the state’s Education Service Centers had agreed to stop providing lessons in CSCOPE, which is used by nearly 900 public school districts to cover the state’s curriculum standards. Rep. Toth then spoke at the press conference, saying he would pull down SB 1406, which would put CSCOPE’s lessons under review by the State Board of Education. SB 1406, authored by Sen. Patrick, the Republican chairman of the Senate Education Committee, had already passed the Senate.

But Monday evening, Rep. Toth decided not to withdraw SB 1406, and the House passed it on second reading. The bill should… Read More