Crushing disappointment for those of us who were excitedly awaiting the Republican primary duel between two of the most wackadoodle right-wingers in Texas — Terri Leo, R-Spring, announced Tuesday that she is dropping her challenge to state Rep. Debbie Riddle, R-Tomball in next year’s election.

Leo posted the announcement on her Facebook page, explaining that she hadn’t been aware that the Texas Constitution bars her from serving in the Legislature while she is an employee for a public school district. She works as a school counselor.

The civil war between very conservative “establishment” Republicans and the even more fervently anti-government arsonists in the GOP was the catalyst for Leo’s now-aborted challenge to Riddle. Riddle, one of the most right-wing Republicans in the Legislature, apparently had angered the even-more-extreme firebreathers in her party for some reason or another this year. So they turned to Leo, who embarrassed Texas as a member of the State Board of Education for a decade through 2012.

As we noted last month, Riddle’s extreme political positions include considering public education an idea “straight out of the pit of hell.”  Leo was a leading member of the education board’s hard-right faction. In addition to attacking instruction on the science of evolution, sex education and Islam in textbooks,… Read More

Now this could be fun to watch.

On Wednesday former State Board of Education member Terri Leo, a Republican from Spring northwest of Houston, announced that she’s running for the Texas House of Representatives. She’s seeking the seat of incumbent state Rep. Debbie Riddle, R-Tomball, who is seeking re-election.

Both Leo and Riddle orbit on the outer fringes of the political right. Will these two spend the next six months trying to out-crazy each other? Pass the popcorn!

For a decade, until she left at the end of 2012, Leo was part of the state board’s faction of hard-right social conservatives. The former Concerned Women for America activist repeatedly tried, for example, to force publishers to include creationist arguments against evolution in their public school science textbooks. Speaking in 2009 on a radio program hosted by phony historian and religious-right propagandist David Barton, Leo explained her opposition on evolution:

“They [scientists] don’t want to talk about the science because they lose that argument continually. The science is overwhelmingly against evolution.”

The following year, Leo’s sloppy Internet “research” led the board to vote to remove the author of the popular children’s book Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? from the state’s curriculum standards. She claimed the author, Bill… Read More

Last night’s State Board of Education elections marked another big step toward an end to the culture wars in Texas public school classrooms. With the defeat of incumbent Charlie Garza, R-El Paso, the state board’s faction of far-right ideologues should be smaller next year than at any time since before the 2006 elections.

Zooming out a bit, here’s the big picture that emerged from this year’s elections:

Garza lost to challenger Martha Dominguez, D-El Paso, after just two years on the state board. Educator Sue Melton of Waco defeated longtime incumbent Gail Lowe — a leading member of the board’s far-right faction and a former board chair — in the Republican primary this past spring. Longtime religious-right firebrand Terri Leo chose not to seek re-election after it became clear that she would face a very tough challenge in the GOP primary.

Add that to dramatic shifts on the board after the last election cycle in 2010:

Thomas Ratliff of Mount Pleasant knocked off former board chairman and arch-creationist Don McLeroy in the Republican primary. Cynthia Dunbar, one of the far right’s most divisive voices on the board, chose not to seek re-election that same year.

Consider… Read More

Five of the Texas State Board of Education‘s far-right bloc have endorsed Marty Rowley of Amarillo in the Republican primary for the District 15 state board seat. Rowley’s campaign blog says board Chair Barbara Cargill, R-The Woodlands; former chair Gail Lowe, R-Lampasas; Charlie Garza, R-El Paso; Terri Leo, R-Spring; and Ken Mercer, R-San Antonio have “unanimously” endorsed him. We don’t know what he means by “unanimous”: a sixth member of the board’s far-right bloc, David Bradley, R-Beaumont Buna, is not on the list of endorsers. (All of the board’s far-right members except Leo are seeking re-election this year.)

Rowley is seeking the board seat currently held by Bob Craig, R-Lubbock, who is not seeking re-election. Anette Carlisle, president of the Amarillo Independent School District’s Board of Trustees, is also running for the Republican nomination for that seat. Steven Schafersman of Midland is the lone Democrat running for the seat.

The Texas Freedom Network’s SBOE Election Watch page includes more information about the board elections and candidates.

(Thanks to TFN Insider reader abb3w for the heads-up.)… Read More

Texas State Board of Education member Terri Leo’s hand-picked replacement might have a smooth path to the Republican nomination for that Houston-area seat next year.

Leo, one of the board’s most extreme right-wing members, on Monday said she would not seek re-election to the board. She instead endorsed Republican Donna Bahorich of Houston in next year’s election. Susan Kellner, president of the Spring Branch Independent School District Board of Trustees, had been preparing to challenge Leo for the GOP nomination. Today Kellner told the Austin-based political news website Quorum Report (subscription required) that she would not run and could support Bahorich:

“Terri Leo needed to go. She has failed on all fronts, and she was an embarrassment to public education in Texas. She’s mismanaged the Permanent School Fund. She’s created curriculum standards that are confusing for teachers, students and families. We need to get Texas public education back on track.”

Quorum Report notes that it had been clear for months that Kellner wanted to run against Leo:

Kellner … has been dogging eight-year incumbent Terri Leo’s steps for months, conspicuously attending State Board of Education meetings and typically sitting prominently in the audience where… Read More

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