In the Tuesday’s school board elections across the United States, Moms for Liberty, a conservative group advocating for strict “parental rights” founded here in Brevard County and known for its anti-progressive stance on educational issues, faced significant defeats.
Labeled as an extremist organization by the Southern Poverty Law Center, Moms for Liberty had thrown its support behind numerous candidates from various states, ranging from Alaska to North Carolina. Their agenda, which included promoting book bans, opposing inclusive racial education, and anti-LGBTQ rhetoric, did not resonate with the electorate almost anywhere. Their slogan “we don’t coparent with the government” seems to be contrary to their main focus of running for government everywhere they can.
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For perspective, Politico estimated that there were over 30,000 school board seats up for election this year; Moms for Liberty won 50 (0.1%)
The American Federation of Teachers said voters had delivered a clear message.
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“These results underline what families have been telling us for the last two years. They don’t want culture wars; they want safe and welcoming public schools where their kids can recover and thrive,” Randi Weingarten, the president of the teacher’s union, said in a statement.
Pennsylvania was a major focus for the group, where they endorsed over 50 candidates across 28 districts. Despite their previous success in Bucks County in 2021, this election cycle saw them endorse only one candidate there. The Philadelphia Inquirer suggested that candidates in the Philadelphia suburbs may have distanced themselves from the group, fearing that explicit endorsements could alienate moderate voters.
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Moms for Liberty’s “voter guide,” which stopped short of official endorsements, listed candidates in five districts. However, following the election, Democrats gained control of the Central Bucks school board, winning all five available seats.
In Bucks County’s Pennridge district, known for its Republican-led school board and culture war controversies, Democrats also won all five open seats. The defeated Republican candidates had campaigned on policies like restricting restroom and sports team access based on biological sex.
Within hours of the embarrassing defeats, Moms for Liberty wiped their website of all their endorsements.
Downingtown Area School District’s Christopher Bressi, supported by Moms for Liberty and accused of creating a false “network” to criticize diversity-promoting books, was defeated by a Democratic opponent.
The trend of losses continued in other states. In Virginia’s Loudoun County, three out of four Moms for Liberty-endorsed candidates were behind in their races, with projections favoring Democrats to maintain control of the board.
In Iowa, the group’s candidates fared poorly, with voters in the Linn-Mar district rejecting three Moms for Liberty-endorsed individuals in favor of two incumbents and two new board members. Similar defeats occurred in Mount Vernon and Cedar Rapids school board races, and in West Des Moines, Teri Patrick, who had previously sought criminal charges against the district over LGBTQ books in libraries, only garnered 9 percent of the vote.
Iowa’s Johnston Community School Board of Education saw a progressive majority emerge, with Moms for Liberty-backed candidates losing their bid for the at-large seats.
Minnesota also witnessed a sweep against Moms for Liberty candidates in the Rosemount-Apple Valley-Eagan School District, where none of the four nominees gained substantial support, with voters preferring incumbents and a newcomer.
However, in Alaska, conservative incumbents Kathy McCollum and Ole Larson, supported by the group, were leading their races according to preliminary results. Conversely, in North Carolina, the group’s endorsed candidate, Theresa Knight, did not win a seat on the Mooresville Graded School District Board of Education.
“Where extremists peddled fear, voters wanted hope. Where extremists tried to smear and divide, voters demanded real solutions. Voters want government to support them, not ban books, censor history or limit their reproductive choices. They want good jobs, higher wages, lower costs and investments in transport and infrastructure. They reject division and want to seize the future together,” concluded Randi Weingarten.
Internal communications within the organization reveal significant in-fighting and division between the all 3 co-founders, as well as chairs of chapters across the country not fully aligning with the parameters of the national organization. The launch of their “campaign kit” this year resulted in the landslide losses nationwide.
Moms for Liberty aggressively rejects that they “ban books.” They state that they simply have them removed (prohibited) from certain classrooms and libraries, which is literally the definition of ban. Ban=to officially or legally prohibit. So to prohibit a book from being on the shelf of a library or classroom is clearly to ban it from that library or classroom. It’s not clear why they are against admitting that.
Even in Brevard, where the organization started, school board meetings are absent of their members with maybe one showing up from time to time to read a book on camera. Many have left the organization and joined other “mom” groups like Moms for America, Mama’s for DeSantis, etc. It should also be noted that every single candidate that Brevard’s local chapter of Moms for America backed this election also lost.
Florida District 33 State Rep Candidate Monique Miller (Currently Randy Fine‘s seat) was part of the startup of Moms for Liberty, and her campaign page is filled almost exclusively with Moms for Liberty branding and photos. Whether she decides to stay with that messaging going forward is yet to be seen. Her first fundraising event’s host committee has removed State Rep. Fine’s name, but still includes his wife Wendy.