Moms for Liberty endorses hundreds of candidates nationwide, and it’s not always easy to tell who is aligned with the group, so it’ll take some time for the far-right organization’s full 2023 results to be known. But Moms for Liberty and other far-right groups definitely did not dominate in Tuesday’s elections, taking some notable losses—each of which is a win for students and teachers and the basic principles that book-banning and bigotry are bad.
Daniel Donner of Daily Kos Elections combed the Associated Press’ data for Moms for Liberty results, finding that the organization's endorsements fared poorly: In 2022, they won around half of their races. This year, according to early results—which could change as more places finish counting or more results are widely reported—65% of Moms for Liberty candidates lost.
In Iowa, all four Moms for Liberty candidates in the Linn-Mar school board race lost. LGBTQ+ issues had been hotly contested in the district, with a right-wing group suing to block a policy supportive of trans students. In Johnston County, a slate of four progressive candidates won, with the Moms for Liberty endorsees losing badly. Tuesday’s winners will join three Moms for Liberty members elected to that school board in 2021, helping to tip the balance. In a related issue, Pella, Iowa, appears to have narrowly voted to preserve the independence of the public library board, turning back an attempt to make it easier for the city council to demand book bans.
Pennsylvania has been another hotbed of Moms for Liberty efforts. The Perkiomen Valley School Board and Pennridge School Board had passed anti-trans bathroom policies—and in both districts, Democrats appear to have swept the available seats, as they did in the Southern Lehigh School District, where a slate of right-wing candidates was threatening similar anti-trans policies. In Central York, where book-banning had been fought out over the past year, Democrats swept the school board election.
Moms for Liberty did have a good night in Nazareth, Pennsylvania, with its two endorsed candidates leading there. But elsewhere in the Lehigh Valley—Bethlehem, East Penn, and more—Democrats swept school board races. It appears that Democratic challengers defeated four Republican incumbents on the Saucon Valley School Board.
In Hamilton County, Ohio, two of Moms for Liberty’s eight endorsed school board candidates won, as did two Ohio Values Voters-endorsed candidates. But Lakota and Forest Hills, two districts where right-wing school boards have enacted anti-diversity policies, elected progressive candidates.
In New Mexico, “Looks like two Moms For Liberty aligned Albuquerque Public Schools candidates lost in non-partisan elections to union-backed candidates,” Matthew Reichbach wrote on Bluesky. “Muller-Aragón was an incumbent and narrowly lost to Tome-Warito; Cecco was a new candidate in a pretty Dem-heavy area and got trounced by Benavidez.”
Loudoun County, Virginia, was heavily targeted by right-wing forces seeking to promote culture war issues. Democrats appear to have won big, including apparent defeats for three of four Moms for Liberty-backed candidates.
Elsewhere in Virginia, Meg Scalia Bryce may not have been an official Moms for Liberty candidate, but it’s safe to say that former Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia’s daughter was an extremist in that mold. She lost her race for school board in Albemarle County. Some Moms for Liberty-aligned candidates ran in the state’s largest school district, Fairfax County. Democratic-endorsed candidates are leading in every race in the district.
It will take some time to know the complete results. Right now, it looks like Moms for Liberty candidates were much more likely to lose in 2023 than in 2022. The full story may be difficult to tell since in some places, candidates aligned with Moms for Liberty did not seek its endorsements, trying to keep the connection quiet. But what is clear on the day after the elections is that in many places there is significant pushback against the forces of bigotry and censorship, something the media needs to remember when Republicans claim that trying to take over schools with “parents’ rights” messaging is a winning issue for them in 2024.