AUSTIN (KXAN) — A controversial politician and a longtime educator will face off in the July 14 runoff election to determine who will become the Republican candidate for the District 5 State Board of Education seat.
District 5 covers parts of Travis County and Bexar County, along with Hays, Caldwell, San Saba, Llano, Mason, Gillespie, Blanco, Comal, Kendall, Guadalupe and Kerr Counties.
Robert Morrow won 40% of the vote for District 5’s Republican candidacy in the primary election, and Lani Popp won 34%. As the two head to the runoff election, many members of the GOP have voiced their opposition to Morrow.
The Travis County GOP publicly announced its opposition earlier this year, saying in a press release that Morrow “has a history of misogynist and vulgar language,” and “has made outrageous and slanderous allegations about President Trump, members of the Bush family and Governor Rick Perry, among others.”
It’s not the first time Morrow has been denounced by others in the Republican party. He briefly served as chairman of the Travis County GOP in 2016, which other members of the party called a fluke and chalked up to voters not really knowing who they were voting for. Morrow was ousted after three months, at which point he decided to run for President of the United States as an Independent.
Morrow is known for his conspiracy theories that Donald Trump is a child rapist and that Lyndon B. Johnson was involved in the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. He’s also known for wearing a jester hat and making controversial posts on social media.
After Morrow secured a spot to move on to the runoff on March 3, current Travis County GOP Chairman Matt Mackowiak tweeted, “We will crush him on May 26 or I will light myself on fire.” May 26 was the original date set for the Texas primary runoff, before it was delayed until July to help slow the spread of COVID-19.
Republicans like Governor Greg Abbott, Senators Chip Roy and Donna Campbell, Rep. Kyle Biedermann and current SBOE District 5 member Ken Mercer, along with all other Republicans currently serving on the State Board of Education have endorsed Popp.
Mercer, in his endorsement, wrote, “Our precious children need a representative with Lani Popp’s conservative moral compass, ethics and integrity. Lani Popp will be our greatest voice to stand and fight for the values of our Texas children, parents and educators.”
District 10 SBOE member Tom Maynard wrote in his endorsement, “We need serious candidates for this job.”
District 15 member Marty Rowley wrote in his, “For the SBOE to continue on its course of well-reasoned decision-making, we need someone like Lani to fill the District 5 seat.”
As a speech-language pathologist, Popp worked for 16 years in public schools and 11 years in private school in Texas. She’s also taught music, theater arts and was a cheerleading coach.
According to Popp’s campaign, she also owns two businesses. One, her campaign website says, produces music to help improve speech, language and social skills, and the other produces materials and curriculum to teach social skills.
The candidate who wins the Republican nomination in the runoff election will face Rebecca Bell-Metereau, who won the Democratic nomination for the District 5 seat in the primary election. Bell-Metereau is also an educator. She’s currently an English professor and serves as Director of the Media Studies Minor at Texas State University.
KXAN has reached out to both Morrow and Popp for comment and will update this story when either candidate responds.