One of the most divisive members of the Texas State Board of Education‘s far-right faction survived a tough re-election fight in his Republican primary on Tuesday. Candidates in the two other contested primary races for seats on state board are headed to May 27 runoffs.
Incumbent David Bradley, R-
Beaumont Buna, defeated challenger Rita Ashley of Beaumont in the Republican primary for the District 7 state board seat. First elected to his board seat in 1996, Bradley defeated Ashley by about 10 percentage points despite being outspent by about 10-1. Although herself a conservative who has worked for key Republican legislators, Ashley faced an uphill climb in a Republican primary electorate dominated by radical tea party and religious-right activists.
Bradley insists that separation of church and state isn’t a key constitutional principle, rejects the theory of evolution and opposes responsible sex education. His defeat would have been a major blow to the board’s far-right bloc, which has lost several key members since its peak strength before the 2010 elections.
In the District 11 race in and around Fort Worth, incumbent Pat Hardy appears headed to a runoff against tea party activist Eric Mahroum. Unofficial returns showed Hardy with 49.57 percent of the vote, barely missing an outright win in the primary. Mahroum won 43.51 percent of the vote, while Lady Theresa Thombs got less than 7 percent. Thombs had campaigned against experts in “socialist higher education” and proclaimed that “we know we didn’t come from monkeys.” Mahroum has been endorsed by Don McLeroy, the creationist former chair of the State Board of Education. The Dallas Morning News and the Fort Worth Star-Telegram endorsed Hardy, a longtime educator.
The only contested Democratic primary, for the District 13 seat in Dallas, also appears headed for a runoff. Erika Beltran win 47 percent of the vote. She will face Andrea Hilburn, came in second at 27.38 percent, in the runoff. A. Denise Russell finished just behind Hilburn at 25.56 percent. The Dallas Morning News and the Fort Worth Star-Telegram endorsed Beltran. Incumbent Mavis Knight, D-Dallas, did not seek re-election to her seat.
You can read more about all of the state board races on the ballot this year at www.tfn.org/sboe2014.