Incendiary State Board of Education candidate Rob Morrow advances to runoff

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Neither party wants to see Robert Morrow, who has a history of sexist and racist rhetoric, elected to the State Board of Education. Bob Daemmrich for The Texas Tribune

A man who has called President Donald Trump a “child rapist” is headed to a runoff in the race for a position that would help decide what millions of Texas public school children are taught.

In the three-way Republican race for the District 5 seat on the State Board of Education, Robert Morrow held the lead as primary election returns trickled in Tuesday night. Lani Popp, a speech language pathologist in the Northside Independent School District, and Inga Cotton, a parent activist and founder of San Antonio Charter Moms, were locked in a battle for the second runoff spot.

Neither party wants to see Morrow, who has a history of sexist and racist rhetoric, elected to the board. Morrow is known for wearing a jester's hat, and his top campaign issue is "to impeach, convict and remove Donald Trump and throw his sorry ass in prison."

District 5 covers communities along the Interstate 35 corridor between San Antonio and Austin and stretches into the Hill Country. The Republican incumbent, Ken Mercer, did not seek reelection.

Mercer said he is vehemently opposed to seeing Morrow, whose rhetoric he called "anti-woman" and "pretty bizarre,” take the seat he held for 14 years. In February, he told The Texas Tribune he worries Morrow's name will be a draw for Republican voters who don't know his reputation.

Eight seats on the 15-member body are in play this year. Democrats make up a third of the board and hope to pick up seats, including Mercer's, in November. District 5 has drawn the largest field of candidates, with two Democrats and three Republicans vying for their parties' nominations.

Morrow was unexpectedly elected chairperson of the Travis County Republican party in 2016, though he was forced to give up the position when he filed to run for president as a write-in candidate that year.

As no candidate was able to secure the majority of the vote in Tuesday’s race, Morrow and the second-place finisher will go head to head May 26 in the Republican primary runoff election.