Moms for Liberty-backed school board candidates overwhelmingly lose in elections

“This is I think a pretty clear signal about sort of where Iowans are on a lot of these concerns..."
Published: Nov. 8, 2023 at 6:48 PM CST
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DES MOINES, Iowa - Moms for Liberty bills themselves as a “parental rights” group. They successfully pushed for school vouchers, bans on books with sex scenes in school libraries, and barred teaching about LGBTQ topics in the classroom.

The organization had endorsed candidates in school board races in the Des Moines and Cedar Rapids metro areas. Tuesday night, 92 percent of their candidates lost. Only one candidate backed by the group won a seat in the Interstate 35 School District.

Iowa State University political science professor Dave Peterson says Moms for Liberty-backed candidates both across the state and the country performed poorly in school board elections.

“This is I think a pretty clear signal about sort of where Iowans are on a lot of these concerns. You know, Iowans seem to think the schools have been maybe over politicized or that the issues Moms for Liberty are raising are a little extreme,” Peterson said.

Peterson says making local schools the center of the culture wars was an unpopular move. “The push for banning certain books, the concerns that the Moms for Liberty have raised just isn’t really where parents or other voters are right now. They’re more concerned with other things.”

Peterson says teachers didn’t feel supported during the pandemic, and now the pendulum has swung. “Listening to lots of teachers talk about how they don’t feel supported by their community anymore has been a sea change and I think this is Iowans sort of reaffirming that we respect our teachers, we that we value our teachers, and we value the education they provide,” Peterson said.

Iowa’s teachers union says groups like Moms for Liberty getting involved was a turn-off for voters, and that these results show Iowans value local control and independence of their school boards.

We reached out to both the Linn and Polk County chapters. Neither were available for on-camera interviews. In a statement, Linn County Chair Geralyn Jones said while the results weren’t what they’d hoped, they’re planning on continuing to work with both the new and current board members.

School board elections are usually held without much fanfare, but not this year. Major advocacy groups across the state got involved by making endorsements or spending in support of candidates.

READ MORE: Conservative and liberal organizations endorsing Iowa school board candidates