Four of the March 1 primary elections — three Democratic races, one Republican — went to runoffs, held May 24.
The primary elections have been quieter for Democrat SBOE incumbents than Republicans. Both incumbent members ousted in the primaries were Republicans: Sue Melton-Malone (R-District 14) and Jay Johnson (R-15), who lost decisively on March 1.
Meanwhile, all three incumbent members that decided to step down voluntarily instead of running for reelection were Democrats: Georgina Pérez (D-District 1), Ruben Cortez (D-District 2), and Lawrence Allen (D-District 4).
All three Democratic primaries for these districts went to runoff elections, along with the Republican primary for District 13, which is currently held by Aicha Davis (D-District 13).
Women’s and Gender Studies professor Melissa Ortega won the Democratic primary runoff for District 1 with 57 percent of the vote, defeating Laura Marquez. Ortega had placed first in the March 1 primary and was endorsed by the incumbent Pérez, who built a reputation as the SBOE’s staunchest opponent to charter school expansion. Ortega will face Michael “Travis” Stevens in the general election.
Unlike Pérez in District 1, Cortez did not dub a successor in District 2. Former Pharr-San Juan-Alamo ISD Board trustee Victor Perez defeated retired educator Pete Garcia with 56 percent of the vote. He will face Republican LJ Francis in the general election.
Out of all the districts in the SBOE, District 2 is the likeliest to flip parties, encompassing a voting population that is 52 percent Democratic according to voting data from the past two election cycles.
Houston-based District 4 had a crowded primary that narrowed to a runoff between attorney Staci Childs and teacher Coretta Mallet-Fontenot. Childs won the runoff with 58 percent of the vote. District 4 does not have a Republican candidate on the ballot.
Notably, all of the candidates that lost in the May 24 Democratic runoffs were endorsed by the Texas chapter of the American Federation of Teachers (AFT), a prominent teachers’ union. Ortega was the only victor to boast an endorsement by a major teachers’ union, the Texas State Teachers’ Association.
Like other associations, the AFT regularly lobbies for political goals. However, the group took a new spot in the political limelight last year when emails obtained by conservative group Americans for Public Trust revealed the AFT directly influenced the COVID-19 mitigation guidelines developed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), including the masking of children. The CDC recommendation for near-universal masking in schools outlasted masking recommendations in all other public areas.
Kathryn Monette won the Republican primary runoff for District 13 with 65 percent of the vote, the largest victory margin of any SBOE runoff race in either party. Endorsed by several grassroots conservative groups as well as the Texas Home School Coalition, Monette was more outspoken about social issues like critical race theory than her opponent A. Denise Russell.
Monette will face the incumbent Davis in November. Davis will likely keep the seat since the North Texas district leans strongly Democratic.
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