What’s Next on McLeroy Confirmation?

Opposition to Senate confirmation for Don McLeroy as chairman of the Texas State Board of Education appears to be hardening. Yesterday, Sen. Eliot Shapleigh, D-El Paso, and Sen. Kirk Watson, D-Austin, grilled McLeroy during a grueling hearing that lasted more than two hours. Both senators deserve hearty thanks from parents and other supporters of strong public schools for their efforts to expose the extremism that has turned the state board into a dysfunctional, deeply politicized mess.

According to the Houston Chronicle, Senate Nominations Committee chairman Mike Jackson, R-La Porte, thinks it could be difficult to get the necessary 21 votes (of 31 senators) for confirming McLeroy. Says Jackson:

“It’s my preference, if that is going to be the case, that we don’t bring him forward (to the Senate floor). There’s no sense in doing that.”

What would that mean? Let’s go to Article 4 of the Texas Constitution:

Sec. 12 (e) If the Senate, at a regular session, does not take final action to confirm or reject a previously unconfirmed recess appointee or another person nominated to fill the vacancy for which the appointment was made, the appointee or other person, as appropriate, is considered to be rejected by the Senate when the Senate session ends.

(f) If an appointee is rejected, the office shall immediately become vacant, and the Governor shall, without delay, make further nominations, until a confirmation takes place. If a person has been rejected by the Senate to fill a vacancy, the Governor may not appoint the person to fill the vacancy or, during the term of the vacancy for which the person was rejected, to fill another vacancy in the same office or on the same board, commission, or other body.

So if the Nominations Committee sits on it, the McLeroy confirmation is dead when the session ends on June 1. In that case, the governor would have to appoint someone else to serve as chairman of the state board. Does anyone interpret these sections of the Constitution differently?

13 thoughts on “What’s Next on McLeroy Confirmation?

  1. That sounds accurate. And of course, Governor Perry will immediately appoint Ken Mercer, and then Cynthia Dunbar, and then Terri Leo, until at last Texas is left with someone even MORE inflammatory than Dr. McLeroy. And yes, they are worse by a long shot than Dr. McLeroy.

  2. The alternatives among the far right are indeed worse than McLeroy, but look at the hole Perry would dig: appointing Mercer would be to acknowledge that you don’t even need a college degree to serve; appointing Dunbar would be to acknowledge that a racist who believes Obama is in conspiracy with bin Laden, and who believes public education is liberal indoctrination, is also okay.

  3. Perry is on the hotseat with his own party because of the radicality of the McLeroy actions. In a time when the national Republican Party is desperately trying to redefine itself in a way that appeals to a broader slice of the American people (read eschew the neocon whackos), it cannot afford to have this “bad for education” albatross hung around its neck. I would expect the appointment of an outside-SBOE Texas Republican who is both a legitimate scientist and an educator—possibly someone from a Texas university. That would be the smartest possible move for both Perry and the Republican Party—and I think they know that now.

  4. You give Perry and the Republicans too much credit. They are not that smart. In Texas, the Republican Party is owned and operated by the radical religious right and the fundamentalists.

    They don’t think ahead. If they did, they would have moderated their far right positions a long time ago.

  5. Charles,

    The chair has to be chosen from among the elected board members, no? I’d like to see Perry pick someone like Pat Hardy, Bob Craig, or Tincy Miller, but I suspect that if McLeroy fails to be confirmed he’ll just pass it along to vice chair David Bradley.

  6. I also think McLeroy is now politically dead.

    I agree with Tom. However, Perry may appoint David Bradley or Terri Leo who have significant seniority over Cynthia Dunbar and Ken Mercer.

    Mercer has a college degree (in biology, of all things, just like Gov. Jindal of Louisiana!); it is Bradley who never graduated from college.

    Democrat Lawrence Allen is currently vice-chair, not Bradley.

    Perry appointed Tincy Miller six years ago, but she was deemed too liberal by Perry’s radical religious right supporters, or perhaps I should say supporter, James Leininger, who asked Perry to appoint McLeroy two years ago. Miller, BTW, is a true conservative, but Perry’s supporters, who also control the Texas Republican Party, are not conservatives. They are radical right, in the reactionary or fascist end of the political spectrum.

  7. Steve,

    Thanks for the correction and the background information. When would the Senate vote on an alternate appointment if McLeroy is not confirmed? Would McLeroy continue as acting chair for an extended interim? It’s still an important message if McLeroy fails to be confirmed, but I’m wondering about the operational effect on the board.

    1. McLeroy would no longer be chairman upon his rejection. Gov. Perry would have to appoint a new chairman, but he might do so after the current legislative session (as he did with McLeroy in 2007). That would rob Texans of their ability to vet, through their senators, the governor’s new appointee until the next time the Senate is in session. The next regular session is in 2011, although the governor can call the Legislature into a 30-day special session at any time.

  8. Well. Maybe you Texans could explain something to me. Back when “W” was President, seems like a century ago thank goodness, assorted national news anchors (really for years) always said that the Governor position in Texas is relatively powerless compared to the governor positions in other states. They made it all sound like the Texas Governor is almost (but not quite) a state figurehead position like Queen Elizabeth II and that all of the real power was vested almost solely in the Texas legislature. If I had a dime for every national newscaster that I have ever heard make that statement over the past 15 years, I could probably afford to buy theater popcorn. What’s the deal here? Y’all Texans enlighten me please. Thanks!!!

  9. The Texas governor’s office is termed a “weak” governor, probably the weakest among all the states. In many respects, the lieutenant governor is more powerful than the governor. The Texas governor’s powers fall in four areas: appointments, vetoes, persuasion of legislators, and cheerleading of issues. Perry, as was the case with some previous governors, has mastered these four areas and he has become a very strong “weak” governor. Without the goodwill of legislators, the governor is indeed essentially powerless, and Perry has lost that goodwill.

    There are problems now for Perry. The radical religious right Republicans are losing power for several reasons and Perry is losing his persuasive abilities. Not only are Democrats making a slow comeback (as demographics change), but traditional, mainstream, and pro-business Republicans are re-considering their 30-year old deal with the devil (with the radical/reactionary religious right) that gave them so much political power. Republicans are thinking that their denial of science and repudiation of minority and civil rights and social tolerance is hurting them now more than helping them. These people want Hutchinson to run against Perry and create a new mainstream, conservative, less radical Republican party in Texas. The makeup of the legislature is changing (more Democrats, more mainstream pro-business Republicans, less radical religious right Republicans) and this is affecting Perry tremendously.The ouster of Tom Craddick as House speaker is a vivid example of this. Perry is thinking: first Grusendorf, then Craddick, then Perry?? We are in a time of transition. This will gradually affect the SBOE, too.