Huckabee's Texas Evolution

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Rick Gershon / Getty

Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee campaigns in Ft. Worth, Texas.

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Given the Lone Star state's influence as the second largest purchaser of textbooks nationally, any changes likely would have had a ripple effect across the country. Miller says she is concerned that if the social conservatives gain the upper hand they may try to reassert that influence by drawing up a conservative curriculum that would necessarily have to be addressed in textbooks. "One vote, one member, could be the difference between kids getting a 21st century science education or a 19th century education," Miller said.

But it is not only the impact of Huckabee's socially conservative supporters on the SBOE election that has raised concerns in some quarters. Longtime Texas Republicans like Royal Masset, a former political director of the Texas Republican Party, fear that if moderate Republicans leave the party to support Barack Obama — and there is some local polling in major urban areas to suggest that may happen — it will reinforce the hold the social conservatives and the religious right has on the state party's apparatus.

The complicated primary system used by Texas only heightens moderate Republicans' worries. Unlike the Democratic primary where two-thirds of the delegates are awarded based on the primary voting during the day and a third by the caucuses at night, voters in the Republican primary elect all their presidential delegates during the day's vote. The evening Republican caucuses can only be attended by those who voted during the day and they are reserved for electing delegates to the county and then state conventions, which hold sway over the state party. In recent years, that has led to a dominance of the state party by social conservatives.

"The right wing has been way out of control," Masset says. "It's become a different party and there's a lot of anger." Thanks to leaders like President Ronald Reagan, says Masset, Republicans have won on big issues like taxes and the Cold War, issues that resonated in Texas. "Now, we are stuck fighting the peripheral issues," he adds. "That could mean trouble for [Texas] Republicans two, four, six years down the road."

The original version of this article incorrectly stated that Mike Huckabee attended the Fort Worth-based Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in the 1970s. Huckabee attended the Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.

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