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Speech pathologist defeats controversial State Board of Education candidate in District 5 Republican runoff

Lani Popp defeated a candidate who has been criticized for posting vulgar and misogynistic pictures and statements on his Twitter account.

AUSTIN, Texas — Editor's note: The related video was published in August 2016.

A speech pathologist has defeated a jester-hat wearing, previously ousted Travis County GOP chairman for the Republican spot for the State Board of Education District 5.

With 79% of the vote, Lani Popp defeated Robert Morrow in the 2020 Republican primary runoff election on July 14.

Popp is a public school speech pathologist who received multiple endorsements from current Republican education board members, according to KVUE’s media partners at the Austin American-Statesman. Popp said she would work to “have strong, age-appropriate and scientifically accurate curriculum standards; preserve the Permanent School Fund; and represent those who have concerns with the state’s standardized testing system.”

In the 2020 March primary election, Morrow garnered 40% of the votes while Popp garnered 34% of the votes.

Morrow’s top campaign issue was to “impeach, convict and remove Donald Trump” and throw him in prison. As election returns came in for the primary election, Morrow tweeted, “Woo hoo! Lyndon Johnson murdered JFK. Trump is a child rapist!”

He embarrassed the GOP in 2016 when he was elected chairman of the party in Travis County. He has been criticized for social media posts described as vulgar and misogynistic.

Shortly after the election, Morrow was removed from office. In a memo explaining the removal, the GOP wrote that Morrow had filed as a write-in candidate for president of the U.S., becoming ineligible to hold office as Republican chair in accordance with State law.


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Popp will face Democrat Rebecca Bell-Metereau, a Texas State University professor, in the November election.

Morrow or Bell-Metereau will replace Ken Mercer, a Republican from San Antonio who has served on the board since 2007.

The 15-member State Board of Education helps set policy and curriculum for the state’s public school system. The board has several times drawn national attention over its debates on issues ranging from the teaching of evolution and creationism and the history of slavery.

“Congratulations to Lani Popp on securing this important victory on the path to the Texas State Board of Education,” said Gov. Greg Abbott early Tuesday night. “Lani is a trustworthy leader who has demonstrated a keen understanding and passion for public education throughout her career as an educator. Her work on the State Board of Education will be instrumental to ensuring a bright future for Texas students. I encourage the people of Central Texas to continue this momentum through the General Election in November.”

WATCH: Travis County GOP Chairman Matt Mackowiak weighs in on primary elections


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