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Democratic hopefuls can’t overcome Republican tide in SBOE races

Wednesday, November 3, 2010 by Kimberly Reeves

Two Democratic candidates hoping to sway the balance of power on the State Board of Education were swept away in a Republican rout that took out dozens of state and Congressional officeholders in Texas.


Judy Jennings and Rebecca Bell-Metereau worked tirelessly for months to build support to win seats on the State Board of Education. Those efforts did not seem to make a dent, especially in the case of Ken Mercer. While the Republican had been a lightning rod for SBOE’s conservative movement, the margin of victory for him was 60 percent to Bell-Metereau’s 35 percent.


Jennings and Republican Marsha Farney were battling to replace Cynthia Dunbar, an outspoken conservative lawyer who decided not to seek another term after a divorce. Farney, who sank significant amounts of her own money into her race, was critical of Jennings’ attacks on her, which she considered misleading.


Farney, who attended the Williamson County Republican Watch Party, said that voters were looking for a candidate with her depth of educational experience to represent their interests on the controversial board.


“I think that’s what people are looking for, someone who can bring credibility and strength to the State Board of Education and having that real experience,” Farney said. “I think that’s what they’re looking for.”


Farney beat Jennings by a margin of 56 to 40 percent, with a Libertarian candidate in the race picking up the remaining 4 percent.


A spokesman for the Jennings and Bell-Metereau campaign, contacted by telephone late in the evening for comment on the disappointing losses, said he had no comment and then hung up.


Democratic consultant Alfred Stanley told In Fact Daily, “It’s a tsunami, just a tsunami. Whatever the breakdown of the House is, it’s not going to last.” Stanley said it was the worst loss the Democrats had seen in at least 90 years.


Those losses bring the tally of hard-core conservatives on the SBOE to six: David Bradley, Mercer, Gail Lowe, Barbara Cargill, Terri Leo and Charlie Garza, who beat out incumbent Democrat Rene Nunez in El Paso. Moderate Republican Thomas Ratliff knocked ultra conservative Don McLeroy out of his seat in the primary.


Democrats Nunez and Rick Agosto were both comfortable allies to the conservatives, serving in key positions on the committee to manage the Permanent School Fund. Both are now gone.


Farney has said she will be allied with no faction on the board, either conservative or moderate/liberal.

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