After State Board of Education chairman Don McLeroy gave a shaky performance before the Senate Nominations committee Wednesday, there appears to be little interest in the Texas Senate in moving forward on his confirmation. Nominations chair Mike Jackson has said he won’t ask for a committee vote if there aren’t 21 votes for his confirmation on the floor. Several Democrats told me there wasn’t yet an organized effort to block McLeroy, but they also seemed to suggest that there didn’t need to be. What Democrat plans to vote for an SBOE chairman who unabashedly called himself in his committee testimony a “young Earth creationist” who believes the Earth is 6,000 years old? On the other hand, it’s probably not just an R vs. D issue, if you consider that Sens. Kel Seliger and Kip Averitt are sponsoring a bill that would strip the SBOE of its textbook adoption powers. The easiest path for the Senate is the one Jackson seems to have staked out: No vote will be taken, saving McLeroy the embarrassment of public humiliation on the floor, and saving moderate Republicans the pain of voting against one of Gov. Rick Perry’s appointees. I asked Kirk Watson if no vote is taken, would the Democrats be blamed for busting McElroy? “I don’t mind taking the credit,” he said with a smile. There’s no illusion that this is a significant victory, as Perry must reach back into the pool of Republicans elected to the SBOE to find a chairman. Everyone expects he’ll appoint another conservative, just after the Legislature adjourns sine die, so there won’t be a nominations committee review until 2011. Don’t expect a big shake-up at the SBOE.
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