Over the weekend, on Colorado Inside Out, Bell Policy Center President Scott Wasserman offered insights into the thinking behind teachers unions’ endorsement of Democratic gubernatorial candidate Cary Kennedy. The unusual endorsement set off a chain of additional endorsements among Democratic gubernatorial candidates – Mike Johnston picked up Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg and U.S. Rep. Jared Polis picked up “dozens of Latino leaders,” including Rep. Don Pabon, former State Sen. Abel Tapia, Val Vigil, and more. Notably absent among the Latino leaders? Federico Pena and Ken Salazar, but we digress.
We speculated that perhaps the Kennedy endorsement was because Polis is too extreme for Colorado (he is), so Kennedy would be the only palatable candidate with even a remote shot of winning. It looks we were half right, according to the Wasserman. The union is just looking for a palatable candidate. Full stop.
Here’s what Wasserman said about the endorsement:
“I think the calculation that may be going on here is that there is no one that CEA and AFT and a number of other unions would rather not see in the Governor’s Office than Walker Stapleton.”
The entire idea is hilarious. The unions don’t want to see Stapleton as Governor, so they back someone who has already lost to Stapleton statewide once? Weird. But there’s a larger takeaway here. The teachers union obviously wasn’t going to endorse Mike Johnston, despite his robust fundraising, because he’s associated with Democrats for Education Reform. We thought perhaps the unions wouldn’t endorse Polis, despite his pile of cash and name recognition, because he couldn’t win in a general against any of the more reasonable Republican candidates. We, then, were reminded that Polis also founded a charter school. Is the real issue with the unions that they cannot endorse the top two Dem candidates because they don’t agree with the union’s backwards views on education (i.e., no funding for charter schools)? This only goes to show how out-of-step with average Coloradans the union is and, thus, how out of step Kennedy is, too.
Fortunately, we’ve seen this play before when Kennedy lost her Treasurer’s spot to Stapleton.