The Back MicThe Back Mic: O’Rourke Sidesteps Explicit Book Issue, Legislator Identifies Pornographic Book Vendor, Buckingham Endorsed by 5 Primary Opponents

This week — Beto O’Rourke dodges a question about explicit books in schools, Texas Republicans zero in on a vendor supplying a controversial book, and Dawn Buckingham is backed by most of her primary opponents for her runoff.
March 18, 2022

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O’Rourke Sidesteps Question on Removing Pornographic Books in Schools

At his Austin town hall this week, Democrat candidate for governor Beto O’Rourke talked about needing to find common ground and compromise with Republicans should he win. 

One of those points he mentioned was legalizing marijuana, saying “Republicans like to smoke pot, too.”

But afterward, he was asked by The Texan if removing any pornographic books from schools, where they do exist, might qualify as a point of compromise.

O’Rourke’s response did not directly answer the question, saying that he would listen to all parents about issues important to them — but focused on underachieving reading levels and what he sees as a lack of investment in public schools.

The Texan Tumbler

“Now if someone has another issue that they’re concerned about what’s being read in the libraries of our schools, they should be at that conversation, as well,” he added. “And we encourage parents to be at the school board meetings to talk about what’s most important. But what I’m hearing loud and clear is that we can do far better in our schools if we took public education more seriously.”

O’Rourke has repeatedly decried the efforts to cull books deemed inappropriate from school libraries as an attempt to restrict what teachers may teach their students.

Republicans Zero in On Vendor That Supplied “Pornographic” Books

“Gender Queer,” a book with sexually explicit illustrations, was found in the library of several public schools in Texas, including Prosper ISD. Rep. Jared Patterson (R-Frisco) sent a letter to Prosper ISD’s book vendor, Perma-Bound, whose product bundle the book in question was part of.

The letter questioned whether the company believes that kind of material is appropriate for school libraries and whether they would take any steps to prevent that book and others like it from being included in future bundles.

Perma-Bound responded, saying, “We certainly do not condone or intentionally distribute pornography of any kind, and should we become aware that there has been an official determination, such as a court decision regarding a specific book being pornographic, we would immediately remove and stop distribution of that book.”

The company further stated that it does not review individual books for suitability and added that they rely on the “good judgment of state and local boards to monitor the suitability of any particular title.”

Patterson also sent a letter to ISDs across the state asking them to pledge not to do business with book vendors found to have provided sexually explicit books.

So far, 29 other Texas House members signed onto that letter with Patterson:

  • Greg Bonnen (R-Friendswood)
  • Dustin Burrows (R-Lubbock)
  • Briscoe Cain (R-Deer Park)
  • Giovanni Capriglione (R-Southlake)
  • Jeff Cason (R-Bedford)
  • John Cyrier (R-Lockhart)
  • Jay Dean (R-Longview)
  • Ryan Guillen (R-Rio Grande City)
  • Cody Harris (R-Palestine)
  • Brian Harrison (R-Midlothian)
  • Cole Hefner (R-Mt. Pleasant)
  • Lacey Hull (R-Houston)
  • Matt Krause (R-Fort Worth)
  • Stephanie Klick (R-Fort Worth)
  • Jeff Leach (R-Plano)
  • Ben Leman (R-Anderson)
  • Mayes Middleton (R-Wallisville)
  • Tom Oliverson (R-Cypress)
  • Dennis Paul (R-Houston)
  • Four Price (R-Amarillo)
  • Glenn Rogers (R-Graford)
  • Matt Shaheen (R-Plano)
  • Bryan Slaton (R-Royse City)
  • Shelby Slawson (R-Stephenville)
  • John Smithee (R-Amarillo)
  • Lynn Stucky (R-Denton)
  • Valoree Swanson (R-Spring)
  • Steve Toth (R-The Woodlands)
  • Cody Vasut (R-Angleton)
  • James White (R-Hillister)
Land Commissioner Candidate Nabs Endorsements from 5 Primary Opponents for Runoff

State Sen. Dawn Buckingham (R-Lakeway) won the March 1 primary for commissioner of the general land office by nearly 30 points but did not clear the bar to avoid a runoff. She will face Texas GOP historian Tim Westley in the May 24 runoff, and Buckingham has since been endorsed by five of the six primary candidates who did not make the runoff.

Those five are:

  • Ben Armenta
  • Victor Avila
  • Rufus Lopez
  • Weston Martinez
  • Don Minton

Jon Spiers, the third-place finisher, is the only other primary candidate who has not endorsed Buckingham.

Minton, the fourth-place finisher, said of his endorsement, “I have spoken with Senator Buckingham several times since the election and am elated that she and I share a passion for providing Texas Veterans with better mortgage options, extracting rare earth minerals from our public lands to help end our dependence on China and Russia, and using the lessons learned from Hurricane Harvey to take our disaster recovery work to the next level of proficiency.”

Martinez added, “We can count on Dawn to do what it takes to defend the Alamo’s rightful place in our state history, secure our border, take care of our brave veterans, and stop the Biden Administration’s shameful assault on our oil and natural gas industry.”

Buckingham far outpaced the field in fundraising and high-profile endorsements, backed by former President Donald Trump and Lt. Governor Dan Patrick. But Buckingham must avoid the upset in May in order to move onto the general, facing either Sandragrace Martinez or Jay Kleburg.


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Brad Johnson

Brad Johnson is a senior reporter for The Texan and an Ohio native who graduated from the University of Cincinnati in 2017. He is an avid sports fan who most enjoys watching his favorite teams continue their title drought throughout his cognizant lifetime. In his free time, you may find Brad quoting Monty Python productions and trying to calculate the airspeed velocity of an unladen swallow.