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Traci Jensen’s challenge

I got the following from the Traci Jensen campaign the other day:

Traci Jensen

This past Wednesday morning, Traci and her Republican opponent Donna Bahorich participated in the Greater Houston Partnership’s “Meet the Candidates: State Board of Education” forum. This was the first time Traci and Bahorich had ever met. Three candidates running in two other area SBOE districts also participated.

Each candidate was given five minutes to introduce themselves followed by Q&A with GHP members. Questions asked covered technology, dropouts, priorities, and communicating with constituent groups and the business community.

Traci was articulate, knowledgeable, factual, and to the point. Her opponent responded in vague generalities and in all honesty provided tepid responses. Now this wasn’t a Texas Freedom Network (TFN) crowd so GHP members were probably not aware of some of her past pronouncements like – “will only vote for health textbooks that uphold traditional definitions of marriage and family and that are abstinence-based” – that you can find on her website.

On a couple of occasions during the forum, Traci was critical of the SBOE’s dismantling of the social studies curriculum in 2010 and even cited specific instances. Bahorich was steadfastly silent.

After the meeting, a GHP member approached both Traci and Bahorich and asked how they intended to be advocates for her children and for public education if elected. Traci said she would and used as an example calling for the legislature to fully fund public education. Bahorich went the Tea Party route and said the Affordable Health Care Act (Obamacare) was going to force the state to put more money into Health and Human Services and divert funds from public education. Traci countered Bahorich and said the legislature has to find the political will to do what is right and respond to the growing student population. Bahorich was taken aback.

We have heard from a few sources within the more sensible Republican Party leadership faction that they would have preferred a more knowledgeable and capable candidate for SBOE, District 6 – a candidate that isn’t driven by Tea Party ideology. They admit that the Tea Party influence within Harris County Republican Party basically forced Bahorich down their throats. After all, she is State Sen. Dan Patrick’s former district director.

These more sensible leaders can’t come out and publicly endorse Traci because of fear or retribution. However, privately they are telling their friends and associates to consider Traci’s candidacy. Some Republican business execs have expressed to Traci concern on how Bahorich – who has home schooled her kids and owns a home schooling business – could be qualified to serve on the SBOE. They have privately urged Traci on.

Bahorich would prefer not to promote her Tea Party agenda before groups like the GHP. She would also like to get through the next two months without having to explain to voters her positions.

Traci got into this race to win. During the Democratic Primary she found the resources to put together a campaign and win without a runoff against two other candidates. She is committed to finding the resources to wage an effective race between now and November 6 and she would like you to make a commitment.

Our strategy is pretty simple! If we let voters who care about our schools compare Traci’s 20 years of public education experience with Bahorich’s Tea Party driven agenda, we win. Republican and Independent voters who care about our state’s public education system do not want the Tea Party ideologues signing off on curriculum and standards for our classrooms. It is pretty simple.

State Senator John Whitmire, City Council Member James Rodriguez, former HISD Trustee Paula Arnold, the Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast Action Fund, Inc., and others believe we can win and are co-hosting a fundraising reception for Traci on Wednesday, September 19. Go to if you can attend.

On a closing note, this is the first time in my memory that we have had a contested partisan SBOE race in the Houston area. This race is different from most partisan races because when it comes to what is taught in the classrooms or printed in our textbooks, most voters want their kids taught established science and uncensored history. The stakes are high and the issues are on our side. These voters will respond to our message if we make the effort.

There’s no question that Jensen is a strong, well-qualified candidate. There’s no question that her opponent is a wacko ideologue who will make the SBOE a worse place than it already is. Unfortunately, there’s also no question that this district was drawn to elect a Republican. To have a shot at winning, Jensen is going to need to convince a fair number of Republicans to vote for her instead. How many? Well, take a look at the 2008 numbers for the redrawn district. Assuming roughly the same conditions, Democratic candidates face a gap of about 100,000 votes, meaning that some 50,000 Republicans need to be flipped. That’s a tall order. Now, it’s entirely possible that the district has moved in a Democratic direction since 2008 – the comparable gap for a Democrat in the 2004 election would have been closer to 150,000 votes – but there’s still going to be a gap. This is the challenge Jensen faces.

I don’t want to be a buzzkill. I do believe this race can be won, and I think it’s vitally important to work on it. Boosting turnout in this growing and dynamic area is a key component in addition to winning converts. This is an important race, and Traci Jensen deserves your support in it.

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  1. Mainstream says:

    I don’t see any way Jensen could win this contest. Down-ballot, low name ID, overwhelmingly GOP district. Certainly Jensen is an easier name than Bahorich, but I don’t see that as a big advantage here.

    I am also not convinced Bahorich will be as shrill, pugnacious, or ideological as Terri Leo was. She supports abstinence-plus rather than abstinence-only sex education, for example. On the other hand, I was unaware she home-schooled her children, rather than participating within the public education system which she will be supervising.

    Bahorich is more than just a former staffer for Dan Patrick. She was the coordinator for the GOP primary in 2010, and in that role met most of the local GOP activists throughout the county, and is generally credited with doing a superb job.

    I would love to know who are “the more sensible Republican Party leadership faction that . . . would have preferred a more knowledgeable and capable candidate for SBOE, District 6.” I would gladly have considered such a candidate. None of these persons had the guts to challenge Bahorich in the primary. One Republican candidate rumored to be considering the contest suffered from having donated to Obama for president in the last cycle, which is a GOP primary probably would be an instant disqualifier, but withdrew so late and without any publicity, that other candidates did not have time to get in.

  2. Mainstream says:

    Sometimes a candidate doomed to fail can nonetheless frame the debate in a contest, force the likely winner to take positions in detail on issues, force a candidate to disavow the nuttier fringe elements of her party.

    I have confirmed that the three sons of Bahorich were homeschooled, later attended Second Baptist high school, and are all successful graduates of Rice and UT in engineering. Serving as a teacher, even in a homeschool, should not be a disqualification so long as Bahorich is committed to improving the public education that 90% of our students rely upon.