Two Right-Wing Texas Legislators Went Down to Defeat This Week

by Dan Quinn

Tuesday’s Republican Primary elections in Texas brought the defeat of one prominent member of the far-right faction on the State Board of Education — Gail Lowe, R-Lampasas. But two other Texas politicians prominent on the far right also appear to have been too extreme even for GOP voters.

One was state Rep. Leo Berman, R-Tyler, in District 6. “Birther” Berman questions, among other things, whether President Obama was born in the United States. During the 2011 legislative session, Berman proposed a bill that would require presidential candidates to present their American birth certificates to prove they are eligible to be on the presidential ballot in Texas. But Berman also argued that the birth certificate from Hawaii that President Obama has already made public is fraudulent. In 2010 Berman told the crowd at a Glenn Beck rally in Tyler that “I believe that Barack Obama is God’s punishment on us today.”

Berman also fears that Muslims are taking over. During the 2011 legislative session, Berman tried, and failed, four times to pass a law that he argued would protect Texans from the mythical threat of Islamic law. Apparently, the Constitution’s protections weren’t good enough for him.

State Rep. Wayne Christian, R-Center, also lost his bid for re-election in District 9. Christian has long been a favorite of religious-right groups. A year ago, for example, Christian openly acknowledged why he and fellow legislators were so focused on slashing funds for women’s health care and family planning while also forcing women seeking an abortion to undergo an invasive vaginal sonogram first: “Of course it’s a war on birth control, abortion, everything — that’s what family planning is supposed to be about.” Christian has also often carried the anti-gay flag in the Legislature. Last year he pushed legislation (unsuccessfully) to defund centers serving women and LGBT communities on college campuses. He worried that such centers simply encourage “alternative sexual practices.”

Of course, plenty of hard-right politicians will return (or join) the Texas Legislature next year. But it’s good to know that at least some Republican voters have limits on what they will tolerate.