School & District Management

Conservative Candidates Lose in Two School Board Races

By Christina A. Samuels — April 06, 2011 1 min read

I spent last week tracking down tea party school board candidates for my recent article on how conservative groups are turning their attention to local elections. That makes sense: National politics get all the press, but billions of tax dollars are spent at the state and local level, including for schools. And influencing the direction of a school board is easier than trying to steer the massive ship that is the federal government.

For the article, I interviewed John Meegan, a school board candidate running in rural Baraboo, Wis. north of Madison, and Ann Stephenson Cameron, who was running for the board in Edmond, Okla. Meegan is the founder of a local tea party group, while Cameron, who described herself as conservative, was endorsed by a tea party candidate who lost in a primary.

Both of them had elections scheduled for April 5, after my article deadline, so I wanted to update readers on the election results. As it turns out, both lost their bid for office. Meegan was one of the top vote-getters during the primary, but he came in last in his race, which featured six candidates vying for three seats.

Cameron lost in a real squeaker of a race—her opponent, Lee Ann Kuhlman, won by 51 votes, racking up 949 votes to Cameron’s 898.

In our conversation, Cameron said she had spent more than $10,000 on the race, which is astonishing considering that most school board races are conducted for less than $1,000. (See Rick Hess’s recent report on school boards demographics and priorities.)

Cameron said that money went to mailers, voter lists, robocalls, and advertisements in the local paper. She also joked that after this race, she would be through with running for public office. We’ll see.

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A version of this news article first appeared in the District Dossier blog.