Gov. Jay Nixon is taking heat from his own party, especially from women, for appointing Maynard Wallace to the state Board of Education.
And while Nixon, a Democrat, isn’t backing down, the outcry from several Democratic legislators may not bode well for the appointment to be confirmed.
Wallace is a former teacher, superintendent and Republican state legislator from Thornfield. For a time, Wallace was also a registered lobbyist for the Missouri Association of School Administrators.
But over the weekend, a number of prominent Democratic women from the St. Louis area used social media to blast Wallace’s nomination.
Among other things, they were upset that Nixon hasn’t appointed a single woman to the state board – or to other prominent boards such as the Public Service Commission or the Missouri Housing Development Commission.
Here's a sampling of some of the Tweets that sprung up over the weekend:
Both state Sens. Maria Chappelle-Nadal, D-University City, and Jamilah Nasheed, D-St. Louis, joined in. That could be important because senators can block nominations fairly easily if they wish.
Nasheed said on Monday in a telephone interview that the lack of female representation on the state board of education was “appalling” and “a sign of male chauvinism.”
“At the end of the day, when do you have a tad bit of sensitivity to the women’s struggle and the women’s movement?” Nasheed said. “Not just in the state of Missour, but throughout this country?”
“I’m sure Susan B. Anthony is rolling over in her grave,” she added.
It's not just women who may be opposed to Wallace's nomination. Some on the right weren’t pleased with his affiliation with MASA. And it’s possible Wallace’s opposition to tuition tax credit legislation – often characterized as “voucher bills” – may spark opposition from Republicans and Democrats favoring “school choice.”
All of this suggests Wallace may face a tough time getting confirmed when his nomination goes to the Missouri Senate sometime next year. When asked if Wallace would face an easy time during the confirmation process, Nasheed said flatly: “I don’t think so.”
Nixon was asked about the criticism on Monday during his visit to St. Louis. He said, “It’s hard to find someone with a better public education pedigree than Maynard Wallace.”
“He’s been a superintendent of both Ava and Forsyth. He’s been a teacher. When he came to the legislature, since day one he was a leader on education issues,” Nixon said.
The governor added that “people listen to Maynard when it comes to education issues.”
“And when we look at charting a course forward for our state, somebody with that rural educator background, with a leadership background and an awareness of the issues is important,” Nixon said. “We’ll continue to find more strong people to serve on the board of education.”
The Missouri General Assembly is out of session until next January, so Wallace can serve on the state board for now. If he gets confirmed by the Senate, he can serve on the board until early 2016. If he is rejected, the governor will have to select another Republican from the 8th congressional district to fill a slot on the board.