The candidate filing period for the 2010 Texas elections opens on Thursday (December 3), but many candidates for the Texas State Board of Education are already off and running – and early indications are that far-right incumbents on the state board will face stiff challenges for re-election.
Let’s look first at the most interesting Republican Primary races that are developing.
District 9 incumbent Don McLeroy, R-College, faces fellow Republican Thomas Ratliff, a governmental relations consultant and lobbyist from Mount Pleasant and son of the popular former state senator and acting lieutenant governor Bill Ratliff. McLeroy served as board chair for nearly two years until May, when the Texas Senate refused to confirm his renomination to a second term to head the board.
Ratliff has already picked up a number of important endorsements, including support from two powerful Texas House committee chairmen: Jim Pitts, R-Waxahachie, who heads the Appropriations Committee, and Brian McCall, R-Plano, who chairs Calendars. Earlier in November he announced the backing of a list of PTA leaders from vote-rich Collin County as well.
District 5 incumbent Ken Mercer, R-San Antonio, also could face a tough fight in his Republican Primary against Tim Tuggey, an Austin attorney and past chair of San Antonio’s VIA Metropolitan Transit agency. Tuggey has the backing of a number of San Antonio heavyweights, including businessmen Red McCombs, Bartell Zachry and David Spencer.
District 10 incumbent Cynthia Dunbar, R-Richmond, faces Williamson County teacher Rebecca Osborne in the March GOP primary. Osborne’s 16-year career in education should make her an appealing candidate for parents seeking an alternative to the extremism promoted by Dunbar, who has called public education a “tool of perversion,” “tryannical” and unconstitutional.
If Republican voters do renominate Dunbar and Mercer, the two will still face Democratic challengers in the November general election.
Democrats who have announced their intention to seek Mercer’s District 5 seat are Rebecca Bell-Metereau, Daniel Boone, Josiah Ingalls. Metereau is an English and film professor at Texas State University-San Marcos. Boone of Canyon Lake is a retired career Air Force officer and a professional psychologist who has taught at the university level. Ingalls is an Austin resident who also ran for mayor this past spring.
So far two Democrats have announced for Dunbar’s District 10 seat. Judy Jennings is an education consultant in Austin. Lorenzo Sadun is a professor of mathematics at the University of Texas at Austin.
At this time we haven’t heard anything about a Democrat seeking McLeroy’s District 4 seat.
In San Antonio, however, Democrat Rick Agosto has announced that he will not seek re-election to his District 3 seat. So far the only announced candidate for District 3 is Democrat Michael Soto, a Trinity University literature professor in San Antonio. Soto has lined up support from, among others, former state board member Joe Bernal of San Antonio and Charles Butt of HEB. It’s unknown whether a Republican will seek the seat. District 3 is heavily Democratic.
UPDATE: Here are the other state board seats up for election in 2010:
District 1: Rene Nuñez, D-El Paso, is the incumbent. No challengers have emerged yet.
District 4: Lawrence Allen, D-Houston, is the incumbent. No challengers have emerged yet.
District 15: Bob Craig, R-Lubbock, is the incumbent. No challengers have emerged yet.