Well-funded GOP challenger defeats longtime incumbent Hardy for State Board of Education

dfwnewsa | March 6, 2024 | 0 | Fort Worth , Fort Worth News

Well-funded GOP challenger defeats longtime incumbent Hardy for State Board of Education

Republicans Pat Hardy and Brandon Hall faced each other in the March 5 primary election. (File photo | Fort Worth Report; courtesy photo | Brandon Hall campaign)
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Editor’s note: This story will be updated with final election results when they are available.

A last-minute infusion of cash helped Weatherford Republican Brandon Hall to unseat incumbent Pat Hardy for the GOP nomination for a State Board of Education seat.

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Hall, a pastor at Bethel Missionary Baptist Church in Springtown, was on his way to winning. With 95.53% of votes counted after 1 a.m. March 6, Hall had 53.2% of the vote to Hardy’s 46.8%, according to unofficial election results. 

Hall, 27, will face Democrat Rayna Glasser, a math teacher at Fort Worth ISD’s Dunbar High School, in the Nov. 5 election for the District 11 seat, which covers west Tarrant County, part of Dallas County and the entirety of Parker, Hood and Johnson counties.

Hall was feeling good at 10:30 p.m. The numbers matched what Hall’s campaign was seeing on the ground in the district, he said. He called the support overwhelming.

“It’s a turning point right now,” Hall said. “With a 22-year incumbent leaving office and a lot of the issues that parents have been concerned about with critical race theory and a lot of the stuff that’s coming into our schools, I think we have the opportunity to change a lot of that and actually send a solid conservative fighter who’s going to fight on those issues.”

Hall wants to improve the state of education in Texas.

“We’re really failing our students, and we need to give them a better education and fix our public school system. This is an opportunity to do that,” Hall said.

Hall garnered significant support from the Texans for Educational Freedom, a political action committee. 

“Critical race theory and other Marxist teachings pose an immediate risk to our schools, our kids, and our future,” the PAC’s site states. “It is time for us to wake up, take back our schools, and focus on getting back to the basics in our education system.”

In the weeks leading up to Election Day, the PAC contributed more than $437,000 in in-kind donations to Hall for texting and other advertising, according to campaign finance reports with the Texas Ethics Commission.

Hall raised more than $500,000 in his bid to unseat Hardy.

Hardy, first elected in 2002, raised more than $58,000 since January, according to her campaign finance reports.

For every $1 Hardy raised, Hall collected nearly $9.

Hardy recognized her loss as votes were being counted. She said her loss was part of a greater shift in Texas politics that she sees as a problem.

“It’s not just my race, but in a lot of races: Money is literally buying winners,” Hardy said. “That means that person owes their allegiance to the person who gave them the money, not to their constituents.”

Hardy saw her loss as great relief, she said. Serving on the State Board of Education is a lot of work that equals a full-time 40-hour job — without pay, she said.

“I am a believer, and, you know, it just wasn’t God’s will for my life at this point in time and maybe it teaches me to be more humble, but it’s real hard,” Hardy said.

Hardy planned to concede to Hall, but she said she would not congratulate him. She said Hall lied about her and her credentials.

Hall described Hardy as not being conservative enough for District 11. He pointed to her criticism of a 2021 bill banning critical race theory in social studies classes as an example. Hardy told the Fort Worth Report at the time she wanted to ban the teaching of critical race theory in all subjects, not just social studies.

“It’s time for a change,” Hall previously told the Report.

Hardy pushed back on Democrats’ attempts to include social justice in science curriculum and worked to limit the teaching of more controversial subjects, such as climate change, in textbooks, she said.

The State Board of Education sets policies and standards for public schools, including approving curriculum, reviewing and adopting instructional materials and overseeing the Texas Permanent School Fund.

Hall decided to run because he wants to increase school choice and put parents back in charge of their children’s education.

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“I’m running to stand up for the interests of parents, to be a solid, conservative fighter and to be somebody who will make the right decision every time when it comes to getting indoctrination, CRT (critical race theory) and obscene materials out of our schools,” Hall said.

The winner of the November election will play a role in the State Board of Education’s forthcoming social studies standards update. Hall plans to lean on the Texas Education Agency’s social studies experts as he looks through the update, he said.

Hall already has eyes on November and is ready to take on his Democratic opponent.

“District 11 is a very conservative district, so I think our chances look great for November and our constituency will reflect that,” Hall said. “We’re totally ready for November.”

Hardy’s successor will serve a four-year term.

Jacob Sanchez is an enterprise journalist for the Fort Worth Report. Contact him at jacob.sanchez@fortworthreport.org or @_jacob_sanchez. At the Fort Worth Report, news decisions are made independently of our board members and financial supporters. Read more about our editorial independence policy here.

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