A public school board member told a Republican audience that he no longer trusts public schools as he successfully sought their vote to be the party’s nominee for an Iowa House seat.
Dan Gehlbach emerged as the winner from a special nominating convention on Monday after coming in third place in a five-way GOP primary in early June, where no candidate received enough votes to capture the party’s nod outright. Gehlbach has served on the Waukee school board since 2019, but he used much of his speech to play to the Republican activists’ growing distrust of public schools.
He explained in his two-minute speech how he pulled his daughter out of the public schools because of “brainwashing” around LGBTQ issues.
“I spent the last year and a half bringing my 14-year-old daughter now back from the brainwashing that the culture and the schools are putting in her head, telling her her identity is in the letters LGBTQ and not in Christ,” he said.
“Parents, including me, no longer trust our public schools, they started reaching out to me to explore options and tell me their stories about what was going on in their school. We found a spot in Des Moines Christian, so luckily my daughter will be there in a few short weeks … This was never my intention to run for this House seat, but sometimes God has different timeline, different intentions … and that place for me now is in the Iowa House.”
Gehlbach’s school district has been the focus of far-right criticisms over books that describe the life experiences of LGBTQ people and non-existent “Critical Race Theory” teaching. Four right-wing candidates lost their bids for Waukee school board seats last November, and Gehlbach noted in his speech he was the last remaining conservative there.
He has been an outspoken proponent of Gov. Kim Reynolds’ voucher bill that would divert taxpayer dollars from public schools to private ones, and has framed his candidacy as one to tell the public of why he pulled his daughter out of a district that “no longer shares their family’s values.”
Now the Republican nominee for House District 46, which covers Grimes, part of Urbandale and parts of rural Dallas County, Gehlbach will face Urbandale City Councilwoman Bridget Carberry Montgomery. Gehlbach had a few words about his Democratic opponent, as well.
“We’ve run in the same circles for many years … In the past, I could stand Bridget, as she was just harmless as part of the HOA or the PTO or as a constant troll on Chris Hagenow’s Facebook … but as a councilwoman or potential member of the Iowa House, she’s a radically progressive liberal, and must be beat in November,” Gehlbach said. “I’m the one she doesn’t want to take on … I get lots of emails from her friends and her donor list telling me that I should resign my seat immediately.”
Gehlbach, who also runs a Mathnasium program, noted that he understands well public school budgets and financing.
“We’re not there to be somebody, we’re to get something done,” he closed his speech with, echoing what Sen. Jack Whitver had told him during a trip to the Statehouse.
by Pat Rynard
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