Over 2,000 teachers have attended union-sponsored candidate forums – and many have attended neighborhood and organization sponsored forums, Thompson, Liu and de Blasio were the most popular among the teachers at the forums. (The union conducted straw votes at each forum).
In spite of the wide ranging views among the membership Thompson is a popular choice, as well as a pragmatic choice.
The six Democratic candidates will duel for the eighty days leading up to the September 10th primary, and the top two will joust for three more weeks to the October 1st runoff.
The Republican candidate will opt out of campaign finance, and raise big bucks to fund an aggressive negative campaign.
In June, 2001 who heard of Michael Bloomberg? He was polling in the single digits as the Democrats flailed away at each other.
The thousand delegates at Wednesday’s meeting overwhelmingly applauded the putting forth of Thompson’s name, and the delegates, with a handful of negative votes endorsed Thompson enthusiastically.
Thompson thanked the delegates and launched into his stump speech, his mother, a career New York City teacher, his teachers in elementary school in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Hudde Junior High School and Midwood High School; his “promises” were to collaborate with parents and teachers and to fix, not close schools. Elect Bill Thompson signs appeared and within an hour I received a robo call and a text message from the union.
“When I’m mayor, I’m going to fight day and night for the teachers of New York, because you’re critical for the future of New York,” Thompson said, to cheers.
Several teachers said the energy in the room was electric, particularly after Mulgrew announced that the endorsement was official. “When he said it, it amped it up 100 percent,” said John Leftridge, who teaches at P.S. 93 in Brooklyn.
“It was kind of like Obama in there,” said Charlene Johnson, a teacher at P.S. 64 in Manhattan.
As the days of school fritter away teachers will scatter to the winds, or take a week off before they begin to toil in summer school. The union has to round up the core campaigners, the teachers who want to spend the summer knocking on doors, setting up neighborhood meetings, and that last minute Go Out The Vote push on the September 7th, 8th and 9th.
Aside from union members another potential pool of Thompson voters are voters of color. The union has developed strong ties with parents, advocacy organizations, pastors and community leaders, a substantial pool of voters.
The Thompson-UFT efforts will target neighborhoods and try and hook up with the City Council candidates, political clubs and political county organizations.
The dog days of summer are also the dog days of campaigning, sloughing from meeting to meeting on 90 degree plus humid days.
The political mavens are predicting that de Blasio, Liu and Weiner will falter as the summer lengthens and Quinn and Thompson will emerge as the contenders. Who knows? It is a campaign without passion – the passion of the Obama campaigns in 2008 and 2012, the Schumer – D’Amato head to head, occasionally candidates evoke the passions of voters who dedicate themselves for their their guy or gal. When I asked a neighbor who they were thinking of voting, after I assured him Bloomberg was not running, he thought, “Let me see, the redhead, Quinn, the tall guy, the Asian guy and the Black guy.” The populace has not focused in on the candidates, and may not until a week or two before the September 10th primary.
The candidates are personalities, it is difficult to define the candidates by issues – stop and frisk, schools, bike lanes, affordable housing, they all sort of agree, The NY Post and Daily News will continue to rip away at all the Democratic candidates and probably endorse the Republican candidate in November.
Thomas Edison wrote, “Vision without execution is hallucination.”
The stakes are high for the union – an early commitment to a candidate, a maximum effort, UFT president Mulgrew pushed all his chips to the center of the table, “we’re all in.” If Thompson stumbles and does not make the runoff the reputation of Mulgrew and the union is tarnished.
If Thompson makes it into the runoff and loses the union can jump on board the October 1st winner – an embarrassment but not a disaster.
If the specter of 2001 is revisited, the union candidates lose in the primary,the runoff and the November election it would be a triumph Bloomberg, in essence the Republican candidate would continue the Bloomberg vista.
In 2009 Bloomberg shelled out over a hundred million dollars and choked the airways, pumping up his reputation and denigrating his opponent. With all the Democrats opting into the campaign finance program, and assuming they max out their contributions, they will have equal dollars in the eight million dollar range. Over the final two weeks the airways will be flooded with glossy presentations, and, jabs. “Third parties” can raise unlimited dollars to campaign, thank the five-members of the Supreme Court in the Citizen United decision.
With six Democrats, without major policy differences, personality and feet on the ground will prevail.
Remember a Derek Jeter and/or a David Wright endorsement is far more valuable than the candidate’s views on co-location. Kim Kardashian and Kanye West could probably “make” a mayor – sadly it’s the world we live in.
Celebrity and music resonates more than political policy.
I have high hopes for Thompson, he just seems like he understands the pulse of the city beyond the East River.
For those of a certain age the raps are the new folk music,
Check out Lupe Fiasco, “Around My Way Freedom Ain’t Free.”