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On September 12, 2018, Will AFT President Randi Weingarten Participate in Another Cuomo-Ticket Robocall?

April 15, 2018

Heads Up: It’s Political!

Cynthia Nixon is challenging New York governor, Andrew Cuomo, in the state’s Democratic primary.

IMG_1035  Cyunthia Nixon

Cuomo considers public education a “monopoly” that he has been working to break.

Nixon is a supporter of public education. From her campaign website:

Eight years ago, I voted for Andrew Cuomo because I believed he was a real Democrat. But since taking office, Governor Cuomo has shown us his true colors. He let the Republicans gerrymander their own districts to suppress Democratic voters, especially voters of color. Then, when Democrats still won a majority, he cut a backroom deal that allowed Republicans to take over the State Senate through the Independent Democratic Conference (IDC) — a group of breakaway Democrats who voted with the Republicans to hand them control, and with it, the power to block almost all of our key Democratic legislative priorities.

Andrew Cuomo has given massive tax breaks to corporations and the super rich while starving the state and its cities of the most basic services and decimating our infrastructure. His inhumane budgets have been passed on the backs of our children, our working and middle class, and our elderly.

We hear all the time about how the big money interests control DC. But if Washington is a swamp, then Albany is a cesspool. Andrew Cuomo promised to clean up Albany, but instead, he and his cronies have cleaned up for themselves. There’s a reason why people close to Cuomo keep winding up under indictment for corruption.

New York’s eight years under the Cuomo administration have been an exercise in living with disappointment, dysfunction, and dishonesty. Our state could be a place where every single New Yorker has what we need to thrive, if only we could stop our governor from selling New York off to the highest bidder.

We could fully fund our public schools — all of our schools. We could end the school to prison pipeline, and level the playing field for students in every part of the state, regardless of the color of their skin or their zip code.

We could fix our crumbling subway system by providing the MTA the money we were promised for repairs, and stop asking New York City or its riders to clean up Governor Cuomo’s mess.

We could take on the real estate developers and landlords who are buying off politicians, raising rents, and forcing people out of their homes. We could strengthen and renew our expiring rent laws, and protect affordable housing for millions of New Yorkers.

On April 14, 2018, the Working Families Party (WFP) chose to endorse Nixon, a move that CNN reports has caused (highlighted?) a rift in the WFP, with some unions apparently preferring Cuomo.

One union “that walked away years ago” is the United Federation of Teachers (UFT). From CNN:

“In a meeting earlier this week, the governor was threatening people,” WFP State Director Bill Lipton said on Friday. “Several times, he said ‘if unions or anyone give money to any of these groups, they can lose my number.’ Our friends in labor are in a tight spot, and we respect their decision.”
Lipton kept up the conciliatory tone on Saturday, casting the union defectors not as turncoats, but victims of a pressure campaign by Cuomo and his allies.
The Cuomo campaign denied on Friday that the governor threatened anyone….

“Mr. Lipton is misguided and delusional if he believes the Working Families Party still represents the voices of labor and working people in New York,” said Michael Mulgrew, president of the United Federation of Teachers. “We walked away years ago when it became evident that their focus was on personal political agendas and a few egos. When asked to behave responsibly, they react like children throwing a tantrum in the classroom.”

The apparent unwillingness for Mulgrew to be associated with a Nixon endorsement comes days after Cuomo made a timely, strategic move to woo the UFT, as the New York Daily News reports:

Gov. Cuomo signed a bill Thursday to give unions a boost even if the Supreme Court rules against them in a high-stakes case.

The legislation would make it easier for public workers’ unions to recruit members — and allow them to deny extra services to people who refuse to join.

Cuomo, who is facing a primary challenge on his left from Cynthia Nixon, signed the bill at the United Federation of Teachers Manhattan headquarters….

Even though Cuomo tries to downplay Nixon’s challenge, actions such as the above UFT union-support-toss betray his need to treat Nixon as an increasingly viable contender. An April 12, 2018, article on the Marist poll has Nixon polling early on the same as Fordham law prof Zephyr Teachout, who though relatively unknown, took a third of the votes in the 2014 Democratic primary in New York:

In the Democratic primary for New York State governor, incumbent Andrew Cuomo (68%) leads challenger Cynthia Nixon (21%) by more than three to one among registered Democrats in New York State. 11% are undecided. In 2014 when Zephyr Teachout challenged Cuomo, he received 62% of the vote in the primary to 34% for Teachout.

“The Nixon candidacy becomes a problem for Cuomo if and by how much she surpasses Teachout’s support four years ago,” says Dr. Lee M. Miringoff, Director of The Marist College Institute for Public Opinion. “Also, the more Cuomo needs to attack Nixon during the primary, the more he will have to pivot later to appeal to progressive Democrats nationally if he wants to run for president in 2020.” …

“Despite Cuomo’s wide, early lead over Nixon, among Democrats most enthusiastic about voting, she already attracts the support of close to what Zephyr Teachout got,” says Dr. Lee M. Miringoff, Director of The Marist College Institute for Public Opinion.

Among voters who are highly enthusiastic to participate in the Democratic primary, Nixon receives 32% to Cuomo’s 60%.

Nixon’s challenge to establishment Dem Cuomo brings me to a question I had in mind upon learning that Nixon planned to run and that Teachout agreed to be her campaign manager:

Will American Federation of Teachers (AFT) president Randi Weingarten conduct another robocall that is little more than back-door Cuomo support?

On September 08, 2014, the eve of the 2014 New York Democratic primary, Weingarten’s voice blanketed New York State as she appealed to voters to elect Cuomo’s running mate, Kathy Hochul. From my September 14, 2014, post:

On September 8, 2014, Weingarten’s voice had been heard on answering machines around New York, asking voters to support Cuomo’s running mate, Kathy Hochul.

However, she assures voters that she is not Randi Weingarten, union president– she is Randi Weingarten, Democratic National Committee delegate.

Weingarten was “delegated” the task of shutting out the “wrong” Democrat: one Democrat robocalling in favor of another Democrat but against yet another Democrat.

And yet, the “forget that I’m a national teachers union president” Weingarten tries to sell Hochul based upon what she supposedly has done and will do for schools– a word Weingarten repeats five times in her brief script.

Here is Weingarten’s  full script, compliments of Ken Lovett of the New York Daily News:

Hi, this is Randi Weingarten- you may know me as the president of the American Federation of Teachers but I’m calling today as a fellow Democrat and delegate to the Democratic National Committee, to urge you to vote for Kathy Hochul for Lieutenant Governor in Tuesday’s Democratic Primary.


I worked closely with Kathy when she was in the Congress. She fought back against extremist Republicans who attacked Medicare, Social Security, affordable healthcare and stood up for public schools, our children, our families and our educators. Her 100 percent pro-choice, pro-equality, pro-worker pro public school record is exactly what we need in our next Lieutenant Governor.

In Congress, Kathy sponsored the Safe Schools Improvement Act to require school districts nationwide to implement anti-bullying policies.‎ Kathy has pledged to help invest in our public schools and expand Universal Pre-K to every region of the state so all of our children get a head start on success.

This is Randi Weingarten and I urge you to vote for Kathy Hochul for Lieutenant Governor in the Democratic Primary this Tuesday September 9th. Thanks. [Emphasis added.]

Fantastic, right? Weingarten using her national position to support Hochul in a democratic state primary, which amounts to supporting Cuomo by proxy, which allows NYSUT (and UFT) to claim neutrality but also satisfies Weingarten’s allegiance to Cuomo and to a Democratic machine.

Despite Weingarten’s efforts, Teachout garnered 34 percent of the vote.

In an on-the-spot interview I had with Weingarten on April 27, 2015, at the Network for Public Education (NPE) conference in Chicago, Weingarten insisted that her Hochul robocall was not a back-door Cuomo endorsement since “they were separate on the ballot”– despite the fact that the Democratic National Party considered the Cuomo-Hochul ticket “complete.” From my April 27, 2015, post:

But let us return to the idea that Weingarten tries to promote: That since the governor and lieutenant governor are separate ballot issues primary elections in New York, then promoting Cuomo’s running mate does not necessarily translate into support for Cuomo.

I researched back to the 1950s and could find no instance in which a New York governor and lieutenant governor who both received the Democratic nomination did not both make it successfully through the primary and end up on the same Democratic ticket.

Given Cuomo’s publicized hatred for New York teachers, it is logical to conclude that former-teacher Hochul could be used as a convenient token to draw career teacher support for Cuomo, and that both the Democratic Party and Weingarten surely knew as much.

On the day that WFP chose to endorse Nixon, Weingarten tweeted this:

The day before, she tweeted this:

Weingarten is a prolific tweeter. However, tweets about Nixon are notably absent from her Twitter page. (If you find one, let me know.)

And so, my question remains:

Will Weingarten participate in some public maneuver to sabotage Nixon and secure Cuomo another term as New York’s governor?

Stay tuned, New York.

New York’s Democratic primary for governor is scheduled for September 13, 2018.

On September 12, 2018, if you’re a New Yorker, you might pick up your phone and hear,

Hi, this is Randi Weingarten….

weingarten7  Randi Weingarten

_________________________________________________________________________________________

Want to read about the history of charter schools and vouchers?

School Choice: The End of Public Education? 

school choice cover  (Click image to enlarge)

Schneider is a southern Louisiana native, career teacher, trained researcher, and author of two other books: A Chronicle of Echoes: Who’s Who In the Implosion of American Public Education and Common Core Dilemma: Who Owns Our Schools?. You should buy these books. They’re great. No, really.

both books

Don’t care to buy from Amazon? Purchase my books from Powell’s City of Books instead.

One Comment
  1. Laura H. Chapman permalink

    Not in New York, but certainly interesting. I am in the middle of trying to find out who financed a “collaboration” between superintendents and teacher unions in eight major urban districts in Ohio. The culprit seems to be http://edexcellencemedia.net/Ohio/FINALDoingMorewithLessinK12EducationCSUpresentation.pdf

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