Brian Russell, who has previously served on the State Republican Executive Committee, will likely run for the State Board of Education in place of far-right member Cynthia Dunbar.
"I would expect that if she does drop out, that she would endorse me," said Russell, who filed today to run for the state board.
Dunbar said via email she will be making a public statement in the next couple days. She's currently teaching at Liberty University Law School in Virginia, and didn't say whether she's made up her mind.
But David Bradley confirmed Dunbar's departure to the Austin American-Statesman.
Dunbar is known as one of the most conservative and outspoken board members. She helped to craft the language around teaching evolution which ultimately passed, ensuring the "strengths and weaknesses" of evolution were taught in state science classes. She also made headlines for her book One Nation Under God which decried, among other things, the public education system. The book made Dunbar a major target for the Texas Freedom Network, which seeks to keep religion out of government.
TFN has already begun to celebrate her departure. "She has shown herself to be so extreme that I think she realizes that it would be a very difficult road to reelection," said Dan Quinn, TFN spokesman.
But Russell, who previously endorsed Dunbar and seeks to be her replacement, has nothing but kind words for Dunbar: "I think she’s had a terrific record of achievement on the board. She’s been a problem solver and someone who’s exhibitied a lot of leadership."
"My advantage is that I haven’t been a lightning rod," he said.
Rebecca Osborne is also running in the Republican primary, and the winner will face Judy Jennings in the general election. Dunbar was one of several candidates to attract challengers — fellow conservatives Don McLeroy and Ken Mercer also face more moderate Republicans in the upcoming primary elections.
"The term to describe the opposition against me, and Ken and Cynthia—it’s the educational-political lobby," said McLeroy.
"I think it’s just the ... squishy RINO Republicans that are against me," he explained.
In that case, McLeroy should like Russell, who said he aims to keep Texas education "moving the direction we’ve been going in."