A school superintendent running as a Republican for the Texas House was slapped with a “no confidence” vote by the local party this week.
Granbury ISD Superintendent James Largent called the move “shameful.”
Hood County GOP Chairman Jim Logan said Largent had it coming.
“To our knowledge, he has never participated in local or state Republican Party activities. He has said he disagrees with most of the party platform, and openly disparages Gov. Greg Abbott and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick,” Logan told The Texas Monitor in an interview.
As a result, the executive committee of the local party issued a unanimous vote of no confidence in Largent in the House District 60 race.
State Rep. Mike Lang is running for re-election in HD 60 against Largent and Gregory Risse in the March 6 primary.
State Republican Party Chairman James Dickey said he was not aware of another no-confidence vote in a Texas House race.
The Hood County district is among the most conservative in the state, but Largent says the local Republican leadership “does not represent the true, hard-working conservative people.”
In an email to The Texas Monitor, Largent “pledge[d] my allegiance to the Constitution, Jesus Christ and the people who live in House District 60.”
Logan suspects that Largent’s GOP affiliation is strategic, not sincere.
“He’s more in line with Democrats, but knows that 70 percent of voters in this district are Republican. He’s out of touch with the Republican base, and that gives us some heartburn,” Logan said.
Largent has declined to sign the House Speaker commitment form to support the selection of the next House leader in the House GOP caucus.
Lang, by contrast, has signed the pledge, gets top marks from conservative groups and is a charter member of the Texas Freedom Caucus.
In a post titled “Conservative Leadership,” the superintendent defends forced collection of union dues, assails school choice legislation and attacks state Republicans, ridiculing Abbott and Patrick.
Slamming the so-called “bathroom bill” last session, Largent wrote that Patrick “does not understand the transgender issue.”
Hood County residents question whether the superintendent understands the boundaries of professional ethics.
Plumping for an $85 million school bond, Largent emailed teachers urging them to call parents to support the debt package at the polls. Some instructors balked at the political gambit, and public-records requests into Largent’s official correspondence are pending with the district.
Meantime, Hood County Democrats, including the wife of a GISD School Board member, are actively pushing their support for Largent.
“He’ll attend Democratic Party meetings and has declined our invitations,” Logan noted.
Last year, Largent declared: “I am very concerned that too many politicians today are taking marching orders from powerful special interests and no longer represent the people who elected them.”
“When politicians care more about pleasing a handful of wealthy elites than standing up for their districts, communities like ours lose our representation.”
The broadside reflected the growing political divide between Texas’ billion-dollar education establishment that touts “local control” and conservative lawmakers who challenge local taxing and spending policies.
In his email to The Texas Monitor on Friday, Largent tried a more conciliatory tone.
“I Iook forward to working with (Abbott and Patrick) in the House to develop conservative policy that demonstrates a Republican commitment to education and economic development, especially in our rural areas,” he wrote.
Largent has said he will remain superintendent during the campaign and will retire if elected.
Kenric Ward can be reached [email protected]