Will Anti-Teacher, Pro-Charter School Politics Help Cuomo in the 2016 Presidential Primaries? Is Cuomo the Amoral Politican?

“Every French soldier carries a marshal’s baton in his knapsack,” attributed to Napoleon, supposedly refers to every French soldier believing he could rise through the ranks to leadership, today it is the dream of every elected official, anyone can become President and Andrew Cuomo is looking to 2016 and 2020.

Jim Malatras and Joe Percoco, Cuomo’s policy strategists are probably pouring over dense political data.

If Hillary runs, as everyone expects, she will probably not have serious democratic opposition, unless Elizabeth Warren decides to challenge her from the left, if Hillary decides not to run the game is on.

Elizabeth Warren on the left, Governor Martin O’Malley from Maryland, a Hillary stand in, California’s Jerry Brown, and, New York’s Governor Andrew Cuomo are all possibilities.

Cuomo’s political persona is a social liberal and a fiscal conservative. New York is a marriage equality state, a medical marijuana state, supports a range of women’s equity legislation and the SAFE Act limits distribution of handguns as well as a 2% property tax cap, limitations on public employee pensions, liberal use of tax breaks and tax free zones, and most recently attacks on teachers. The NY Daily News reports on a meeting with their editorial board,

Cuomo, during a meeting with the Daily News Editorial Board, said better teachers and competition from charter schools are the best ways to revamp an underachieving and entrenched public education system.

“I believe these kinds of changes are probably the single best thing that I can do as governor that’s going to matter long-term,” he said, “to break what is in essence one of the only remaining public monopolies — and that’s what this is, it’s a public monopoly.”

Cuomo said he will push a plan that includes more incentives — and sanctions — that “make it a more rigorous evaluation system.”

“The teachers don’t want to do the evaluations and they don’t want to do rigorous evaluations — I get it,” Cuomo said. “I feel exactly opposite.”

Cuomo accused teachers of having tried to torpedo the Common Core curriculum in fighting the evaluation standards — and expects they will again.

“They will be using it the way they used it, I believe — to get the parents upset last year about this entire Common Core agenda,” he said.

You may ask: why would Cuomo not only give up on teacher votes and chose teachers as enemies? The answer is his team believes charter school support; both in dollars and voters are more beneficial than teacher support; in communities of color charter schools are popular and Cuomo may be aiming at Black and Latino voters in early primary states.

The winter and spring of 2016 are battles in state after state – one primary after another leading up to the Democratic convention.

Who are the voters in democratic presidential primaries?

Usually party loyalists, older voters and issue voters; however in 2008 and 2012 Obama changed the scenario – through the skillful use of social media, and, hundreds of millions of dollars, Obama mobilized first time voters, college kids, millennials, women and voters of color.

Obama ran against George Bush, ignored Hillary, opposed the wars; he was younger, more dynamic and appealed to a new electorate.

Who would have thought in the fall of 2007 that a first term Senator, an Afro-American, with an Arab name would not only grab the nomination away from Hillary Clinton but defeat Republicans twice?

Cuomo will defeat his Republican opponent, Rob Astorino by 20% or more and garner national headlines. Citizen’s United allows unlimited fund-raising and the incredible influx of pro-charter school dollars served its purpose.

In January Cuomo will make his State of the State address, whether he continues his assault on teachers or presses ahead with his women’s equity agenda or anti-corruption, we will see.

Will he support eliminating caps on charter school altogether? Transfer the unused state cap to the city? Raising the NYS cap? And, how hard will he push?

The teacher evaluation law is only in its second year, first year in New York City, does he actually want to revise the incredibly dense law in the upcoming session? What does he mean by incentives? Merit pay for teachers?
Why is he willing to ignore teacher union political clout? And, the larger enigmatic question: how much clout does the teacher union have?

The state teacher union, the New York State United Teachers (NYSUT), is one of the largest contributors in the state, how many teachers actually work in political campaigns? Make phone calls? Knock on doors? The grunge work that wins elections.

Teacher unions are in the forefront in gubernatorial elections in Wisconsin (Scott Walker v. Mary Burke) and Pennsylvania (Tom Wolf v. Tom Corbett).

Cuomo is betting that if he runs in 2016 democratic primary voters will pick him out of the pack, the calendar is below:

Iowa caucus: January 18
New Hampshire: January 26
Colorado caucuses: February 2
Minnesota caucuses
Saturday, February 6
Nevada caucuses
Saturday, February 13
South Carolina
Tuesday, February 16
North Carolina
Tuesday, February 23
Tuesday, March 1
Colorado caucuses

Will the Cuomo game plan: both right and left and anti-teacher, pro-testing, pro-charter schools resonate with democratic voters in the early primary states?

You may ask: Cuomo can be both devious and strategic?

Of course, he can decide to only push so hard and blame the Assembly democrats for obstructing his teacher legislative game plan, or, twist arms and get what he wants.

Thomas Jefferson, the author of the Declaration of Independence, an iconic founding father, obtained love letters that Alexander Hamilton sent to his mistress and used the letters to besmirch Hamilton’s reputation.

Politics, from Jefferson to Lincoln to Cuomo, is an amoral struggle, do what you must do to achieve your ends; for Jefferson to eliminate a political opponent, for Lincoln to get the Congress to approve the 13th Amendment, for Cuomo, to gain the democrat slot on the 2016 ballot.

And the job of public school advocates is to use our votes, our dollars and our advocacy to defeat the bad guys.


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