A politically connected lobbyist lost his bid for mayor of a small Northeast Texas town.
Thomas Ratliff, a member of a once-powerful political family and a past State Board of Education representative, lost a mayoral runoff in Mount Pleasant on Saturday.
Tracy Craig, a retired Navy veteran, overwhelmingly defeated lobbyist Ratliff by a 66-34 percent margin in the June 15 runoff election. Craig is the first African American elected mayor of Mount Pleasant, the county seat of Titus County.
Ratliff’s father, Bill Ratliff, represented Mount Pleasant in the Texas Senate for 15 years (with a two-year stint as lieutenant governor) and authored the state’s controversial “Robin Hood” school finance law in 1993. Thomas’ brother Bennett was a one-term member of the Texas House.
Ratliff opened his lobbying firm in 1998, according to the company’s website. Public records show Ratliff’s clients include Microsoft and the Texas Association of School Boards (TASB), a taxpayer-funded lobbying organization that represents school district interests. TASB is also a vendor that sells products and services to school districts.
Ratliff represented District 9 on the SBOE—a 15-member elected board that manages the state’s multibillion-dollar Permanent School Fund and sets textbook standards for public schools—for six years, from 2011 to 2016. During that time, he continued to lobby the state legislature on behalf of Microsoft, which sells digital materials to Texas schools.
The Ratliffs identify as moderate Republicans. Craig ran for justice of the peace in last year’s Democrat primary.
Following his mayoral runoff victory Saturday, Craig posted on Facebook that the city had “spoken loud and clear:”
“Know that with every decision being made, it will be for the best interest of you, the citizens, the tax payers, the city! This victory belongs to you, the citizens of Mount Pleasant.”
Craig will be officially sworn in as mayor on June 18.