Tag Archives: democratic primary

The Blue Wave: Will the Democratic Primary Victories Impact Education Policy in NYS?

Cuomo and Nixon slugged it out all summer, the incumbent governor with an enormous war chest filled the airways with TV slots, Nixon, with very limited dollars kept up a steady barrage, and, education policy was on a back burner. Nixon trumpeted more dollars for education, clearing up the teacher evaluation morass and clearly is not a friend of charter schools, Cuomo, silent.

Cuomo, following the polling predictions, won easily with 64% of the vote; however, the story is further down the ballot.

The progressives, the anti-party establishment, the Democratic Socialists, whatever you want to call them, rejected the incumbent Independent Democratic Caucus (IDC), winning in six races, including rejecting the IDC leader Jeff Klein who spent over 2 million dollars, an incredible sum in a state senate primary race.

Juumane Williams, a Brooklyn City Council member with a checkered past and a conservative on social policies came close in the Lieutenant-Governor race and Tish James, the Public Advocate in New York City won the four-way Attorney General race with 40% of the vote; Zephyr Teachout, who ran against Cuomo in the primary four years ago had 25% of the vote.

What this means is that Joe Crowley’s shocking loss in the June congressional primary was not a fluke. Sages clucked away blaming Crowley: he lived DC, only occasionally toured the district,  didn’t take his opponent seriously, and the race was an anomaly. The victories across the board of young, vibrant, virtually unknown candidates may be a sea change in New York State politics.

The turnout was huge.

Will the wave of young, progressive candidates and voters continue two months from now in the general election?

The national Republican Party will not pump dollars into a losing campaign and it is likely that Cuomo will roll to victory; however, will Cuomo have coattails and will other progressives defeat incumbent Republicans in state senatorial races?

The state senate majority teeters, while the Democrats currently hold a 33-32 edge one member, Simcha Felder, votes with the Republicans, giving the Republicans the edge. If the blue wave continues to roll the Democrats will seize the state senate.

Past democratic majorities in the senate led to internal mud wrestling and the last two Democratic leaders ended up in jail. Can the current dem leader, Andrea Stewart-Cousins, actually lead her contentious troops?  Jeff Klein will be gone, the remaining IDC leader, Diane Savino, is isolated, a new cluster of very young and very progressive dems confronting old guard dems; of course, first the dems have to prevail in November.

At the NYS AFL-CIO Endorsement Conference the unions were all over the place, some unions supporting the former IDC incumbents, others in the insurgents, a few unions supporting Republicans. The Conference endorsed Cuomo-Hochel-deNapoli-James and failed to make any endorsements in the hotly contested races, a 2/3 vote is required for endorsement.

NYSUT, the state teacher union, made no endorsement for governor.

If the dems prevail and take control of the senate charter schools will be a loser – perhaps a big loser.

The governor, at times, has been both a friend of charter schools, at other times ignored charter schools. If the blue wave rolls I believe Cuomo will join the wave. Not only will the charter school cap not be increased it is altogether likely that legislation will require further scrutiny of charter schools: much greater transparency of school finances, tightening up the regulations, namely, charter schools students, including student with disabilities and English language learners at the same level as surrounding public schools. Charter schools commonly force out low performing students before state tests, one idea is to “credit” the test score results to the charter school.

The revised teacher evaluation law that was bottled up in the senate by the Republican leader will pass.

Perhaps the legislature will increase the power of State Education to remove school boards in conflicted districts, i. e., Hempstead and East Ramapo. BTW, a very long time Assembly member in Hempstead was defeated in the primary.

The blue wave in both houses may attempt to grapple with creating alternative assessment pilots, regional Career and Technical Education (CTE) sites, additional Community Schools, expanding Universal Pre-K and 3-for-All programs across the state.

The new ESSA law does call for greater transparency in all schools in regard to the use of dollars and Cuomo has been a fan of fiscal transparency.

Will the blue wave reach into currently Republican controlled districts?  Replacing the six IDC Democrats with six progressive Democrats will be a futile gesture without also taking control of the senate.

Will the losers, Cynthia Nixon, Zephyr Teachout, campaign across the state for Democratic candidates?  Teachout is weeks away from giving birth so we’ll give her a pass.  I would love to see TV ads with Nixon and Teachout pumping up their troops, pumping up that blue wave across the state.

In 2008 and 2012 record numbers of voters raced to the polls to cast a vote for Obama, two years later, in 2010 and 2014 they stayed home and the Congress went Republican. The job is never done, the primaries were a first step; the “real” election is in November.

Endorsing a Candidate: How Will the UFT Select a Candidate in the September 10th Democratic Primary?

Over 1200 UFT members packed the Hilton ballroom at 8:30 Saturday morning to listen to six candidates (Quinn, DiBlasio Liu, Thompson, Albanese and Carrion). UFT President Mulgrew and Elementary School VP Karen Alford asked the questions for an hour and audience members lined up at microphones and queried the candidates for the last half hour.

Gotham Schools has been “collecting” statements of the candidates – with so far over 150 comments – an “issues tracker,” (http://gothamschools.org/2013-mayoral-race/)

The election wonks are predicting a 600-700,000 voter turnout for the September 10th primary. Who are the voters? Do the polls include new voters of color? Asian voters? How will the “outer borough” antipathy towards Bloomberg translate at the polls? Will endorsements translate into votes?

The huge voting blocks are teachers and parents, how will they vote

The UFT, the teacher union, is a “major player” because of the potential power at the polls – well over 100,000 registered democratic voters, and, how will a UFT endorsement influence parent voters?

At the April UFT Delegate Meeting members overwhelmingly supported making an endorsement at the June 16th meeting; the May 22nd Delegate Meeting will include a “speak out,” an opportunity for delegates to advocate for or against candidates.

In each of the boroughs the UFT is sponsoring candidate forums, and, asking UFT members in the audience to “vote” for their choice by a secret ballot before they leave.

At today’s Brooklyn forum over 200 union members packed the meeting space. It was a diverse group – by gender, by race, by teaching level and from different districts.

From a little after 4 PM until near 7 PM, no one left as Liu, Quinn, Di Blasio, Albanese and Thompson fielded similar questions.

There were no surprises, and not much of a difference in policies. Liu is an “old friend,” endorsed by the union as a City Council candidate and in his race for Comptroller. A product of the school system with a 7th grader in a public middle school he fielded question with ease.

UFT Borough Rep Howie Schoor reminded the audience that while Quinn supported a third term for the mayor and the council she is responsible for thwarting Bloomberg’s budget which would have laid off 7,000 teachers. Quinn skillfully answered questions and used the word “collaboration” many times.

Di Blasio, also a public school parent, continued to attack Quinn, over her support for a third term, and called her the “Bloomberg Lite” candidate.

Sal Albanese, a teacher for eleven years, as one teacher noted, seemed to be running for chancellor.

Bill Thompson thanked the audience for waiting and charmed with stories about his mother, a career teacher in District 16 in Brooklyn. A graduate of Hudde JHS and Midwood High School, both in Brooklyn, Thompson reminded the audience that he spent 55 of his 58 years in Brooklyn. Time and time again he rapped the Bloomberg administration and in the strongest terms said he would hire an experienced educator as chancellor. The audience applauded as he criticized Tweed, policies made by a staff without much school experience, and, “not a lot of diversity.”

Each of the UFT Borough Offices has, or, will be hosting the same type of meeting; a thousand or so union members, from every district and level, will be participating in the forums and casting ”straw” votes.

I think the final endorsement will be driven by the “straw votes” at the borough meetings and the attitude of the delegates at the May 22nd meeting.

Will the fund-raising convictions of Liu staffers fatally impact his campaign?

Is DiBlasio too far to the left? Will he “turn off” the middle of the road voters? Will he mobilize the business community to make an all-out effort for Lhota? (Lhota is about at the same level as Bloomberg was at this time in 2001)

Can Thompson capture voters of color: Afro-American and Hispanic? Are his middle of the road economic and safety views acceptable to a wider swath of voters?

And, the key issue: will the union membership follow the union endorsement?

Between the delegate meeting, the Spring Conference candidate forum and the five borough forums over 2,000 union members will have participated in the endorsement process.

The mantra from Michael Mulgrew has been – let’s not pick a winner, let’s make a winner.

With many opportunities to participate in the endorsement process it is likely that an enthusiastic, involved membership just may make the difference in September and November.