First off, after I placed a link to my recent entry on Harris County primary runoff elections in the comments for this entry, Charles Kuffner was kind enough to link to it at the bottom of another entry yesterday. Thanks, Chuck!
Then the social networks emitted one long, exasperated gasp over a particular race in Northeast Texas. Through the magic of the Internet, the gasp spread beyond Texas. Someone at the Washington Post heard the gasping and turned it into a "legitimate news" story, rather than indignant hand wringing on RawStory.
Learn this name: Mary Lou Bruner. Republicans in the Piney Woods region almost nominated her to represent them on the State Board of Education. There were three candidates to replace current SBoE member Thomas Ratliff, and Bruner did not receive the necessary 50% of the vote to seal the nomination and avoid a runoff. In May, Piney Woodlanders have an opportunity either to fix this mistake or confirm that, yes, they really meant it.
Not everyone up behind the Pine Curtain is going clunk, though. Remember, this is the region that keeps sending Louie Gohmert and Jeb Hensarling back to Congress. So if Bruner wins the runoff, the chances of her winning the general election are pretty strong.
Take a look at the statewide results from Tuesday's Republican primaries in Texas. The only contested SBoE race is about one-fourth of the way down the page, between the Court of Criminal Appeals and State Senate races. (Eight of the fifteen seats on the board are up for election this year.)
In case you were unaware or forgot, the SBoE is a ridiculously powerful entity, the tail that wags the atomic dog. The Board determines what textbooks the state will adopt for public K-12 education, and what the curricula for various courses will include or exclude. Texas is a huge textbook market, so publishers adapt their texts based on SBoE guidelines. Several Republican members of the Board are young-earth creationists, according to the Texas Freedom Network's investigations. This is why our US History books cite Moses as an influence on the Declaration of Independence and ignore John Locke.
My major takeaway from this whole story (and you are entitled to disagree) is that the national media spend so much time and ink on the presidential races, and local outlets devote almost no coverage to who's running for the offices that affect us more directly. I don't know how many of the 100,000+ voters who chose Bruner really knew anything about her. All I can come up with beyond that are questions that apply not just to Northeast Texas, but to all of us:
- Do you really know anything about the people whose names are on your ballot, running for state, county, and regional positions?
- Do you look down the ballot and just vote for the candidate with a woman's name, or with a name ethnically similar to your own?
- Do you download the League of Women Voters Guide for your area?
- Does your area even have a League of Women Voters chapter? (Greater Houston does.)