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Berlanga and Craig to retire from SBOE, Ames Jones changes Senate races

This could be bad news.

Longtime State Board of Education members Bob Craig, R-Lubbock, and Mary Helen Berlanga, D-Corpus Christi, said they will not run for re-election in 2012.

First elected in 1982, Berlanga said 30 years on the board was enough, particularly given the recent ideological battles over history and science.

“It’s time for fresh, new blood to get involved,” she said.

Craig, a lawyer and former Lubbock school board member, was first elected to the state board in 2002.

Both consistently voted with a bipartisan bloc of the board during recent contentious adoptions over textbook and curriculum standards.

Craig leaving is potentially bad news because he was definitely in the moderate Republican bloc on the SBOE. He’s endorsed a successor, which may help hold his seat for the forces of sanity, but you hate to have to hope for the best in a Republican primary in what’s already proven to be a fever swamp year. I hope I’m wrong, but I have a bad feeling about this.

Berlanga’s departure is potentially bad news because hers is a swing district that could very well be lost if the Dems nominate a bad candidate or the Rs pick a good one. If the Dems manage to fumble what should be a strong pickup opportunity in SBOE1, which was taken over by an R in what is actually a bluer district than Berlanga’s SBOE2, we could be staring at a 12-3 split on the board. That’s not something I’d like to contemplate. Burka has more.

Meanwhile, Robert Miller was first to report that a third “contender” for the open US Senate seat in 2012 has woken up and smelled the coffee.

Railroad Commission Chairman Elizabeth Ames Jones has decided to run for Texas Senate District 25, which is currently held by Sen. Jeff Wentworth. Jones began making calls to San Antonio supporters late last week gauging support for the race, and on Friday called Sen. Wentworth to advise him that she was running.

Jones previously was seeking election to the U. S. Senate, and as of September 30, 2011, reported $304,067 in cash on hand. She will be able to transfer all of those funds to her state race.

Jones represented San Antonio in the Texas House from 2001 until Gov. Perry appointed her to the Railroad Commission in 2005. Speaker Joe Straus subsequently won the special election in February 2005 succeeding Jones in HD 121. Jones’ San Antonio ties are wide and deep, and she will be a formidable competitor to Sen. Wentworth. Dr. Donna Campbell has recently moved into SD 25 and is also in the race.

I’m hard pressed to think of anything Ames Jones has done other than be in the right place at the right time. Her Senate campaign had all the traction of tube socks on a freshly waxed floor, but she thinks she can win by being the bigger wingnut, and I can’t say she’s wrong about that, though I hope she is. The Senate and the SBOE both have the potential to be a lot less functional after this election.

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  1. […] 2010, so while she may have been a moderate, she certainly wasn’t “longtime”. As noted before, all of these races make me nervous. Having to rely on Republican primary voters to do something […]