May 23, 2009
The zombie nominee

As we know, the Senate confirmation of Don McLeroy as Chair of the State Board of Education, which we all thought had been scuttled back in April, got new life earlier this week when Senate Nominations Committee chair Mike Jackson, who had originally said he wouldn't bring the issue up if the votes weren't there to confirm McLeroy, brought it up and got committee approval. The full Senate will take it up next week, and the question is what if anything has changed. Elise Hu games it out.

So the Dems think they can effectively block with commitments of twelve senators to vote no. Meanwhile, TEA sources say they've heard something different.

"I've heard two or three Democrats [would vote for McLeroy]," said TEA Commissioner Robert Scott. "I've also heard one Republican is a hard 'no', so no one really knows for sure."

The timing is everything, considering the number of votes to confirm McLeroy depend on how many members are present at the time of the vote. Assuming all the Republican members will vote in favor, it would take at least three Democratic senators to leave the floor and not cast a vote in order for McLeroy to make it through.

Scott and TEA General Counsel David Anderson reminded us that this might be one of those "devil you know is better than the devil you don't" situations, saying it's unclear who McLeroy would be replaced with as chairman, and it's unknown whether that would be more or less satisfying to McLeroy's detractors.

The Dems could survive one defection, as eleven votes are sufficient to derail the nomination. Muse and Lisa Falkenberg consider what might happen if McLeroy does get sunk. Muse:

What happens if McLeroy is not confirmed? Governor Perry gets to appoint someone else from the SBOE as Chair. He could certainly appoint someone who is equally as bad - Dunbar, Cargill, Mercer, Leo or Bradley. Or he could appoint a moderate Republican like Bob Craig, who has the best interests of Texas school children top of mind instead of a far religious right agenda.

That's a nice thought, but I fear Falkenberg is correct:

But another question is whether McLeroy's defeat will really save the state of Texas any further embarrassment?

Maybe not. According to another bit of scuttlebutt from a lawmaker and few e-mailers today, it could actually make things worse. I always thought if McLeroy were ousted, Perry would pick one of thoughtful, sensible Republicans who serve on the board. There are several good choices: Bob Craig of Lubbock, Geraldine "Tincy" Miller of Dallas and Patricia Hardy of Weatherford.

But the name I heard mentioned today was none of those. It was Cynthia Dunbar of Richmond.

Yes, that Cynthia Dunbar.

It's certainly makes me wonder if, under at least one scenario, McLeroy's miracle could actually save us from a curse far worse.

What's an enlightened Texan to do?

My answer to that question is to work one's enlightened keester off in 2010 to ensure that we have a Governor who won't view such embarrassments as good politics. Working to unelect Dunbar, whose SBOE district is a nice shade of purple, wouldn't hurt either. Not the sexiest answer in the world, I know, but that's the way it goes.

As far as McLeroy himself is concerned, if I thought there was a reasonable chance that Perry would take this failure as a lesson in the need to moderate, I'd go all in on torpedoing him. But when has Perry ever done that? I believe he'll just double down on the crazy, since that's clearly his electoral strategy and this would present him with another opportunity to stroke the aggrieved paranoia of his base while giving KBH another opportunity to not address a hot button issue because she's too damn wishy-washy. Given that, I say the Dem Senators can do whatever they think is best. Draw the line in the sand, curry favor with Finance Chair Steve Ogden (who happens to be McLeroy's Senator), come down with a newly-evolved 24-hour virus and miss the whole sorry spectacle, I'm giving a free pass. Just put us all out of our misery and get it over with.

UPDATE: Muse notes that Republicans are calling Democratic senators to implore them to vote to confirm McLeroy. She also has a list of Dem senators whose position on McLeroy's confirmation are unknown.

UPDATE: And more from Muse, who clearly disagrees with me on this.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on May 23, 2009 to Show Business for Ugly People

You may be willing to give Senators a pass for voting for McLeroy or walking the vote. Some of us who have actually worked to try to elect good people to the SBOE and are tired of being embarrassed feel differently. Will we be seeing you help knock doors next year when Dunbar is up?

Posted by: Suzy Allison on May 23, 2009 11:33 AM

Any Democratic Senator who votes for McLeroy is giving tacit approval to the right wing agenda on the SBOE.

It's not our problem if Perry appoints someone who is "worse", which I've been clear would only mean "equally bad", not any worse.

It's the responsibility of every Democrat who beats their chest over education being "our" issue to stand up against the right wing hijacking of the SBOE and vote no on McLeroy. If Perry appoints another crazy, we can go after Perry and whomever he appoints on that issue.

Kids can't vote and kids can't get out of school to go up to the Capitol and lobby. It's up to the grownups to send a message to Texas children that we aren't playing games with their education by kissing up to Ogden so we can trade for budget favors. That's NOT OK.

Any guess how the R members of the SBOE want the vote to go on McLeroy? They are hopeful he'll appoint Craig which would be a VAST improvement and very much worth irritating Ogden.

Believe me the far right is very disciplined on this issue and why we can't be disciplined on just about anything is a continuing mystery.

Posted by: Martha Griffin on May 23, 2009 2:32 PM

If you are a Democrat, VOTE like one. On this issue, it is simple.

Either you are with us....

Posted by: John Cobarruvias on May 23, 2009 6:10 PM
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