March 3, 2010

McLeroy is out… Mercer isn’t

The primary results are in.

To nobody's surprise, Gov. Goodhair won the Republican gubernatorial contest, handing a surprisingly lopsided defeat to Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchinson. Considering that Texas managed to survive the current recession in better condition than other states, and our secessionist homeboy and teabag sympathizer painted Kay with the “Washington insider” mud brush, the only surprise was the margin.

The down-ticket Republican races were more interesting; especially the contests for seats on the Texas State Board of Education (SBOE). This is the joke of a State agency about which I have previously rather caustically written.

It wasn't always that way, but since the same election that swept Ann Richards, our last (and one of our best) Democratic Governor out of office and replacing her with The Shrub in 1994, the Texas SBOE has been populated with extremists, fundamentalists, creationists and young-Earth revisionists intent on turning Texas schools into Redneck, Madrases-like temples of indoctrination, and a complete laughing stock within U.S. education circles.

Of particular interest to me was the Place 9 seat, pitting incumbent former SBOE chairperson, Baptist fundamentalist, science denier and history revisionist Don McLeroy, against a more politically moderate, pro-education challenger, Bill Ratliff. Ratliff is the son of former Texas Lt. Governor Bill Ratliff, Sr., and thus had name recognition.

I’ve mentioned McLeroy before.

The vote wasn't a runaway, but Ratliff seems to have pulled a rabbit out of the hat.

The other SBOE primary race I was watching didn’t turn out so well. Place 5 incumbent Ken Mercer beat his closest opponent by a ratio greater than 2 to 1. Mercer is another of the fundamentalists attempting to rewrite curriculum standards to match their creationist revisionism, so this is a shame, but with Ratliff on the board perhaps Mercer’s effect will be diluted.

Because of the efforts of these Texas Taliban to deny science and rewrite history to match their King James inspired visions, the board gained a reputation as “the most dysfunctional agency in Texas government.”

Paul Burka, writing in this month’s Texas Monthly magazine, provides some interesting history of the trials and tribulations of the SBOE, including quotes from retiring board member Cynthia Dunbar’s book, One Nation Under God: a “subtly deceptive tool of perversion

“Rather than address how to improve public schools, [the SBOE] seek to slay dragons—evolution, sex education, whole language, new ways of teaching math, unpatriotic depictions of Texas and American history.”

It seems we’ve always had our troubles with the fundamentalists in this state . William Cowper Brann, an early 20th century journalist from Waco, TX, once observed, “I have nothing against the Baptists. I just believe they were not held under long enough."

Brann died after he was shot in the back by an irate Baptist.

SIDEBAR: McLeroy’s campaign was bankrolled in part by donations from Houston builder Bob Perry, one of the nation’s biggest campaign contributors, and the person who gave huge donations to the campaigns of former Texas Governor and U.S. President George W. Bush, and to current Texas Governor Rick Perry (no relation). Bob Perry is also the builder who tried (unsuccessfully so far), to screw a retired Fort Worth area couple by building a defective home, then reneging on the warranty.

That backfired on him, and now he has to pay. He may not be funding any more campaigns for awhile.

UPDATE: The xtian press isn't very pleased about McLeroy's loss. Editorials appeared overnight in the Christian Press, and the Baptist Standard.