Texas SBOE: Post-Election Roundup (March 2010)

THIS is a sampling of articles we found today in Texas newspapers regarding the primary election for members of the State Board of Education. The reporters, columnists, and editorial-writers have now had a couple of days to digest the meaning of what the voters did, and these articles are the result.

The stories naturally focus on the defeat of Don McLeroy, the creationist dentist who — from his Dark Ages perspective — presumed to challenge the scientific knowledge of the civilized world, but that’s not all they have to say. For each item, we’ll be adding bold font for emphasis. Here we go:

In the Houston Chronicle we read The other big Texas election. Excerpts:

In case you missed the results of the second-most-important primary election in Texas, Ratliff is the guy who pulled off an upset in the District 9 State Board of Education race that forced out longtime member and former Chairman Don McLeroy.

McLeroy is the Darwin-bashing, McCarthy-defending Bryan dentist and young-Earth creationist who served as proud ringleader of the social conservative voting bloc on the most influential school board in the country.


While his predecessor liked to reduce the debate over how to teach evolution into a war between God-fearing churchgoers and heathen atheists, Ratliff sees no reason why faith and science can’t co-exist.


Ratliff’s election took the social conservative bloc from seven votes to six on the 15-member board, the makeup of which is still being decided. Far-right member Cynthia Dunbar’s handpicked successor was forced into a runoff. The only religious right-backed candidate to win was San Antonio incumbent Ken Mercer.

In the Austin Chronicle we read Without Darkness, There Can Be No Light. Excerpts:

On the upside, GOP voters in District 9 (central East Texas) finally got embarrassed enough by former board Chair Don McLeroy – and his pro-creationist, anti-evolution crusade – to turn him out of office (barely).

On the downside, Republicans in District 12 (suburban Dallas) decided they don’t like moderation and removed Geraldine “Tincy” Miller in favor of the more conservative George M. Clayton with 52% of the vote. Actually, Clayton could be a mixed bag himself: As noted by the Texas Tribune, he’s (thankfully) against punishing teachers for poor results on standardized tests. He does, however, appear to be yet another creationist.

In District 5 … [Tim Tuggey’s] challenge to far-right incumbent Ken Mercer went down in flames, 69% to 31%.

Mercer will face Texas State professor Rebecca Bell-Meter­eau, who easily won the Democratic nomination over three others. Bell-Metereau knows she’ll have a tough fight in a district drawn to favor Republicans, but she thinks Texans have lost patience with the religious extremists. “People are tired of these backward people trying to force 18th century thought on 21st century people,” she said at a Democratic Party election night gathering at Serrano’s in Central Austin. “I think there are … Republicans who do not agree with the swing the Republican Party has taken. I think there are people who accept science, who accept real history, and they don’t want to see that happening to their own party.”

In the Dallas Morning News we read McLeroy loses education post, but his term’s not over yet. Excerpt:

[Despite his loss to Thomas Ratliff,] McLeroy and his allies will hold seven votes through the end of the year, with history and social studies standards on the agenda. McLeroy has promised several more amendments when the 15-member board gets back to work on social studies next week. New members won’t be seated until January.


Late Wednesday, McLeroy said he is considering a challenge of the ballot totals in Wood County because of a swing in the percentages favoring each candidate from the early to the final results. Ratliff won the primary by 839 votes.

In the Austin American-Statesman we read Shift in education board’s ideology? Excerpt:

The ideological fault lines on the State Board of Education could shift a bit next year after some jarring shocks in Tuesday’s Republican primaries. But the 15-member board, which adopts curriculum standards and textbooks for Texas public schools, will probably remain sharply divided once all the players are in place.

Two incumbents on the board’s competing factions were toppled in the wee morning hours Wednesday. Conservative leader Don McLeroy, the former board chairman, narrowly lost to a moderate challenger, while Geraldine Miller, a fixture on the board since 1984, fell to a little-known opponent [George M. Clayton].

“God has a sense of humor,” board member David Bradley, R-Beaumont, quipped Wednesday.

So there you are, dear reader. We have a primary runoff election for Dunbar’s seat, a possible vote tally challenge by McLeroy, a likely creationist (Clayton) who will be replacing the rational Geraldine Miller, and a November blow-out election pitting the gracious and intelligent Rebecca Bell-Meter­eau against “Dog-Cat” Mercer (he dismisses evolution by asking: “Have you ever seen a dog-cat, or a cat-rat?”).

Texas remains a hotbed of lunacy, at least for now. Your Curmudgeon should have plenty to write about this year.

Copyright © 2010. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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10 responses to “Texas SBOE: Post-Election Roundup (March 2010)

  1. Curmudgeon: “[Mercer] dismisses evolution by asking: ‘Have you ever seen a dog-cat, or a cat-rat?’).”

    He wanted to say “crocoduck,” but that was already taken.

  2. George Clayton is still an enigma, but at least he doesn’t proudly align himself with the “conservative bloc;” I don’t think someone like Mercer would hesitate.

    Brief take from the American Statesman. I hope he does turn out to be a “voice of reason.”

  3. 🙂 !!!!!!!!!!!!!

    If only we could have gotten rid of Perry… alas!

  4. “Texas remains a hotbed of lunacy”

    Some of us remain rational!

  5. LRA says: “Some of us remain rational!”

    Just another minority group.

  6. Nathan Bernier did an interview of Clayton and he does not seem to be a creationist. Rather, he warns that teachers need to be prepared for students posing creationist questions in the classroom.
    Clayton apparently maintains that there is no place in the science curriculum for the “strengths and weaknesses” language, which he correctly identifies as substitute language for creationism. By the way, his was one of the most economical grassroots campaigns in Texas.

  7. That’s good to hear, Rebecca. But there are persistent rumors that he’s not what we’d hope for. It was certainly an upset, whatever he believes. Time will tell.

  8. Hearing that from Rebecca makes me feel considerably better. The failure of Texans for Better Science Education [sic] to endorse him against Miller struck me as an important point, too.

  9. James F says: “Hearing that from Rebecca makes me feel considerably better.”

    Yes, I agree. But Discoveroid John West, in his article I wrote about recently, was crowing about the defeat of Miller because she was so “pro-Darwin.” He seemed quite pleased that George Clayton won. Maybe he’s not sure Clayton is a creationist, although it’s the sort of thing he would likely know. It could be that West was happy just to see Miller lose. I donno.

    Edit to add: It could also be that West was just desperate to find something to write about that would balance the defeat of McLeroy.

  10. Edit to add: It could also be that West was just desperate to find something to write about that would balance the defeat of McLeroy.

    Indeed. Remember, this guy is a PR shill for a “scientific” organization that has failed to publish data to support its claims in a single peer-reviewed scientific research paper. One gets good at finding vaguely encouraging news.