DALLAS - Mary Lou Bruner, who made national headlines for Facebook posts in which she called President Obama a male prostitute, lost a Republican runoff election Tuesday for a spot on the State Board of Education.
Bruner made the posts last summer and fall in which she wrote, among other things, that Obama worked a male prostitute in his 20s to pay for a drug habit and that Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan looked like a terrorist when he had a beard.
Bruner was asked on WFAA Inside Texas Politics program Sunday whether, in hindsight, she should have posted such comments.
“When I wrote those things, I wasn’t even intending to run for the State Board of Education. I had no idea that I would," she said. "I was actually calling people and trying to get them to run — people with my values — and I couldn’t find anyone. They kept saying, ‘Well, why don’t you run?'”
Bruner, a former school teacher, lost the runoff by a wide margin to Keven Ellis, the school board president of Lufkin Independent School District. With 93% of the vote counted, Ellis led 59% to 40%.
Ellis will represent District 9, a 31-county region encompassing northeast Texas, from the eastern edge of Dallas all the way to the Louisiana border.
The State Board of Education sets curriculum standards and chooses textbooks for public school students in Texas.
The contest was hardly a boring one.
Earlier this month Bruner lost an endorsement from Grassroots America, We The People — a prominent tea party group — after she was criticized for citing incorrect information in a speech to school superintendents in East Texas.
According to video of Bruner’s speech to that group, she said, “We are approaching 50% of our student population in the special education programs.”
She said she misspoke and meant to say almost half of Texas students are in “one special program or another,” not “special education.”
“I’m really sorry there was this misunderstanding,” Bruner told WFAA. “More than 50% of our children are in some at-risk program, some at-risk special program, so the intent was not wrong.”
At that same event with superintendents, she also said one in six high school students in the state are college-ready — a statement which drew even more criticism.
Bruner cited Achieve.org, a non-partisan, non-profit education reform organization, which reported 27% of all college students met college readiness benchmarks in 2014-15.
“My statement was a little bit larger than that, but it is still in the same range,” she said.
She told The Dallas Morning News, “There is a definite threat to teachers that speak out to the establishment. I am their voice. And because I am speaking out for them, the establishment has gone after me with an Army tank.”
Bruner's headline-grabbing statements overshadowed the regional race and left Ellis fighting for attention and calling for accountability.
"What you say matters. We're both Christians. We're both conservatives. You're not going to see a difference there," he told WFAA. "But how we handle ourselves out in public, how we speak, and how we will work on the state board is where you're going to see the difference."
Bruner finished the March 1 primary with 48% of the vote to Ellis’ 31%, but didn't get more than 50%, triggering the runoff. Ellis is expected to be the heavy favorite against Democrat Amanda Rudolph in the general election come November.
Follow Jason Whitely on Twitter: @JasonWhitely
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