Cross-posted from the Teacher Beat blog
By Stephen Sawchuk
Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s campaign could be getting a big boost later this week. A boost with three million members, in fact.
Sources say that the National Education Association, the country’s largest union, could endorse the Democratic candidate in a presidential primary battle as early as Friday, Oct. 2. Mike Antonucci is also reporting this over at Intercepts.
NEA President Lily Eskelsen-Garcia has been busily canvassing the union’s 50 state affiliates via visits and conference calls, trying to drum up support for a PAC Council vote, the first step in the union’s endorsement process. If, as sources say, she plans to put this to the PAC Council later this week, then she probably has enough support for it to be approved without resorting to a weighted vote. (Wondering what the PAC Council does, or what a “weighted vote” is? Read this.)
Indeed, Antonucci reports on an internal survey of NEA members that shows Clinton ahead of Vice President Joe Biden, who has yet to declare that he’s officially running, and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, although not by a huge margin.
But there is one question still in play: How much internal blowback is Eskelsen-Garcia is willing to stomach to secure this endorsement?
Clinton’s rivals do have strong supporters within the union. One state affiliate, Vermont, has already thrown in for Sanders. And some members think there hasn’t been enough time yet to weigh all the pros and cons. The Badass Teachers Association, now a caucus within the union, does not want an early endorsement without more assurances from Clinton. And the president of the union’s Massachusetts chapter, Barbara Madeloni, wrote this in a message to her members: “In conversation with President Eskelsen García, I have expressed my concern that an early endorsement does not allow members to be active participants in the kinds of discussion and debate that are central to a democratic union.”
So we’ll watch and wait to see if the union moves forward this week, or holds off.
Once the PAC Council approves the nomination, the union’s board of directors must also vote to approve it by a 58 percent margin. But, unlike with a presedential nomination, the union’s Representative Assembly does not have to sign off on it.