Topeka Democrat Bill Wagnon scored a come-from-behind victory early Wednesday to retain his seat on the State Board of Education.
According to unofficial results, Wagnon defeated Republican Bob Meissner, a Topeka dentist. The outcome was decided when a final precinct from Douglas County was posted, giving Wagnon 51 percent of the vote total to Meissner's 49 percent.
Though Meissner kept a lead throughout the night, it dwindled. At stake was the composition of the 10-member board, which took a shift to the ideological right following the August primary.
Wagnon, 65, was elected to the board in 1996 and won a second term in 2000. He has been a history professor at Washburn University since 1968.
Meissner, 53, served 12 years on the Shawnee Heights school board in eastern Shawnee County.
The district covers Shawnee and Wabaunsee counties and parts of Douglas and Osage counties.
In August, conservatives gained a 6-4 majority on the board with the GOP primary victory of Kathy Martin, a retired Clay County teacher who argues creationism and evolution should be taught together in classrooms. She defeated Republican Bruce Wyatt of Salina in the primary by a nearly 2-to-1 margin.
Wagnon opposes any effort to make creationism or related theories part of the science curriculum. Meissner said he would keep an open mind.