The falsehoods continue to flow in Republican efforts to shield the party’s candidates in the Texas State Board of Education elections in November. Now District 5 board incumbent Ken Mercer, a San Antonio Republican, says he won’t participate in the League of Women Voters debate set for September 28 in Austin — but he either didn’t bother to check his facts or hoped no one else would.
In an e-mail to voters and supporters today, Mercer repeated the disingenuous claim by Texas Republican Party Chairman Steve Munisteri that the League is not a nonpartisan group. Munisteri has called on Mercer and District 10 Republican nominee Marsha Farney of Georgetown not to participate in the League’s debate.
But Mercer went further in his e-mail and targeted the debate moderator, Evan Smith, former president and editor-in-chief of Texas Monthly and currently CEO and editor-in-chief of the online news website Texas Tribune. Says Mercer:
“My far left, Democrat opponent unwittingly proclaimed the ‘non-partisan’ LWV’s debates will be moderated by ‘Evan Smith, a respected journalist.’ This is the same Evan Smith who held a fundraiser in his home for Howard Dean, the current Chairman of the Democrat National Committee. I would hardly consider Evan Smith ‘non-partisan.'”
That led the folks at Quorum Report, an Austin-based political news website, to check with Smith, who categorically denied Mercer’s claim. Smith said he has been a journalist for his entire career and has never raised money for a Democrat or Republican during that time. He told QR that Dean spoke to a group of Republicans, Democrats and political independents at a Texas Monthly event at Smith’s home in 2003. The event was not a fundraiser, and other candidates in the 2004 presidential election — including then-President George W. Bush — had also been invited to speak. The Quorum Report story is available here. (Click “Daily Buzz.”)
So Mercer is not just accepting Munisteri’s advice to hide from voters and avoid debating his opponents. Now he’s misleading voters about the reasons why.