The GOP wanted to turn the California school boards around. It looks like they are unsuccessful

The group focused a lot of attention on Santa Clara County, where it endorsed eight candidates. Only one candidate appears to have won a seat.

Moms for Liberty-backed candidate Marc Cooper has the third-highest number of votes in a close race that will decide three trustee seats on the board of directors of the Franklin-McKinley School District in San Jose. He has 17% of the vote, behind Steve Sanchez and Rudy Rodriguez, who have 19% and 18% of the vote, respectively. Three other candidates are within 3 percentage points of one of the seats Results updated Wednesday afternoon. Rodriguez was supported by the County Democratic Party (PDF).

Morgan Hill Unified contestant Dennis Delisle was also endorsed by Moms for Liberty. The businessman was the only candidate for the seat until then The Chronicle of San Francisco published a story about racist and homophobic remarks that he made in a book he authored. The article prompted two contestants to enter the race just before the registration deadline.

One of the challengers, retired school librarian Terri Knudsen, led on Wednesday with 43% of the vote. Delisle had 29% and attorney Armando Benavides had 28% of the vote. Both Knudsen and Benavides were supported by the county’s Democratic Party.

“I think voters trust teachers and librarians and people with experience in education,” Knudsen said. “I knocked from door to door and tried to get in touch with as many people as possible. They seemed very happy that I ran.”

Morgan Hill has a community of Democrats and Republicans who don’t always vote along party lines, she said.

“Candidates with extreme views are less likely to be supported by parents and families at Morgan Hill,” she said. “It’s more of a middle-class grassroots that doesn’t want politics invading that space. We want the best for children.”

Knudsen did not have much time to run for office, but she received help from the Morgan Hill Federation of Teachers, whose members called and knocked on doors for her.

“If your teachers call and say they support these people and they know about education, that’s a big help,” Knudsen said.

In more conservative areas of the state, such as Placer County near Sacramento, the efforts of the Republican Party and other conservative groups generated great enthusiasm and crowded school board races.

Moms for Liberty took a special interest in school board races in that county and endorsed 23 candidates. Destiny Christian Church in Rocklin has also partnered with the Christian advocacy group, the American Council, to recruit candidates to promote a “biblical worldview,” according to The Sacramento Bee.

Although most Placer County residents are conservative, Roseville, a suburban city near Sacramento, is more politically mixed. Jonathan Zachreson is running for one of three vacancies on the Roseville City School District board of directors. He was endorsed by the Republican Party, Moms for Liberty, and the American Council Kevin Kiley, running against Democrat Kermit Jones for a seat in the US House of Representatives.

After COVID-19 closed schools, Zachreson, a father of three, created the Facebook page Reopen California Schools to give a voice to parents frustrated by the closures and later by mask and vaccination requirements.

Despite the endorsements and revelations, Zachreson ties last place with an opponent with similar endorsements, Kent Meyer. Both had about 17% of the vote as of Thursday morning. Frontrunners were incumbents Alisa Fong with 29% of the vote and Rob Baquera with 21% of the vote. Fong is supported by the Republican Party and Kevin Kiley, while Baquera is not supported by any political party.

Like Knudsen, Zachreson wants to make sure politics doesn’t sneak into the classroom. Instead, he says, schools should focus on core subjects. He wants schools to stay away from controversial or “hot” issues related to gender and racism.

If Zachreson wins a seat, he plans to meet with teachers to discuss the possibility of the county’s teachers’ union breaking away from the California Teachers Association, the state’s largest teachers’ union.

“What are roadblocks? I’ve heard that some want to leave the union and there are perks that keep them there,” Zachreson said. “I don’t think it’s unreasonable to find out what these things are and help them with that.”

In nearby San Juan Unified, Sacramento, candidate Jeffrey Erik Perrine, a member of the far-right group Proud Boys, loses his bid for a seat on the school board. He recently told The Sacramento Bee that he wants teachers to focus on teaching, not indoctrinating students.

Perrine was unsupported by the Republican Party, which ousted him from the party after learning of his affiliation with the Proud Boys, who were allied with white nationalists and neo-Nazis. Instead, the GOP supported Tanya Kravchuk, a child care worker. She leads with 42% of the vote, closely followed by incumbent Michael McKibben, a retired education administrator, who has 38% of the vote. Perrine has 21% of the vote.

In San Diego, GOP-backed contestant Becca Williams is in one close race for a seat on the San Diego Unified board of directors. She is up against Democrat Cody Petterson, who teaches anthropology at UC San Diego. Petterson leads 53% to her 47%.

This race has become a partisan brawl about abortion, coupons and Texas, according to The San Diego Union-Tribune. According to the newspaper, political action committees have spent more than $367,000 either supporting or attacking the two candidates.

Williams, executive director of a curriculum company, has support from the state Republican Party and the American Council. Petterson is supported by the San Diego Education Association, which Williams has called a “MAGA extremist,” “COVID conspirator,” and “Texas Republican,” according to The San Diego Union-Tribune.

The California Teachers Association typically offers endorsements in about 500 school board races each election year and has not increased its endorsements this year, according to a spokesman.

Far-right political provocateur and commentator Aubrey Huff, a former San Francisco Giants slugger, has failed in his bid to win a seat on the board of directors of the Solana Beach school district in San Diego County. sports illustrated and other news outlets reported.

Huff, who has no political support, lost in the two-person race to incumbent board vice president Debra Schade by a vote of 1,505 to 362. Little was known about Huff’s campaign platform, and his personal website makes no mention of his candidacy.

In 2020, citing Huff’s offensive political positions and offensive comments about women, the Giants banned Huff from participating in a 10-year reunion of the franchise’s 2010 World Series championship team. Huff “has made several comments on social media that are unacceptable and contrary to the values ​​of our organization,” a team spokesman said in a statement at the time.

Twitter also permanently banned Huff in 2021 for repeatedly tweeting misinformation about COVID-19 vaccines. He had also tweeted harsh threats against former presidential candidate Bernie Sanders.

EdSource reporter Thomas Peele contributed to this report.

This story originally appeared in EdSource.