Educator support at the polls fuels big Election Day victories

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by Brian Washington

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Election Day saw education champions make significant gains at the ballot box—including several candidates considered to be longshots.

In the Virginia governor’s race–which was expected to be a close nail-biter that would extend late into the evening–education champion Ralph Northam instead surfaced early as the victor. Northam, whom educators supported overwhelmingly, bested Washington, D.C. insider and lobbyist Ed Gillespie.

Gillespie took a page out of President Trump’s handbook and ran a campaign that used fear and bigotry to attempt to divide Virginians. He also supported private school vouchers and unaccountable charter schools—policies back by Education Secretary Betsy DeVos. Northam won the race handily by about 9 points.

Virginia voters chose Justin Fairfax as their new Lt. Governor. This makes Fairfax the second African-American in the history of the Commonwealth to hold statewide office.

They also re-elected incumbent Attorney General of Virginia Mark Herring to a second term. Herring served his first term under the term-limited outgoing Democratic Governor Terry McAuliffe.

Northam, Fairfax, and Herring were all recommended by the Virginia Education Association, which represents close to 50,000 educators statewide.

“During the campaign, Ralph Northam traveled around Virginia asking educators to take a seat at the table so that he could listen and learn from the professionals in the classroom,” said Utah educator Lily Eskelsen Garcia, president of the National Education Association, which represents about 3 million educators nationwide.

He has promised that support for public education will be a top priority of his administration. Actions like these are why Ralph Northam earned the support of the Virginia Education Association, as well as from educators and parents throughout Virginia. They are confident he will do what’s best for students and public education.

Virginia’s House of Delegates races provided several big surprises last night. Republicans watched a 34-seat lead practically vanish. After the state counts provisional and absentee ballots from one district race, Democrats could end up regaining control of the House.

Danica Roem also made history last night—as the first openly transgender person elected to a state legislature in the United States. Roem, a Democrat and former journalist, beat out incumbent Republican Delegate Bob Marshall, who sponsored Virginia’s version of the controversial bathroom bill and legislation banning gay people from serving in the National Guard.

Last night also saw New Jersey’s gubernatorial contest end early. Democrat and former U.S. Ambassador Phil Murphy beat out the state’s current Republican Lt. Governor Kim Guadagno. Although she tried, Guadagno could not shake the stench left behind by her former boss, outgoing Governor Chris Christie, who currently holds the lowest approval rating for a governor in history at 16 percent.

In Washington, education champion Manka Dhingra won in a race that handed control of the Senate to Democrats. Hundreds of educators volunteered in Dhingra’s campaign—knocking on doors, phoning, or handwriting postcards to targeted voters.

Educators also made the difference in local school board races. In Jersey City, New Jersey, educators supported candidates who won three of the four seats on the city’s Board of Education. They beat a slate of candidates backed by the city’s mayor.

School board elections in Colorado also made news last night. In Aurora County, four educator-supported candidates, out of a field of nine, won local school board seats.

And in Douglas County, educators helped four anti-voucher candidates win local school board seats in an extremely expensive race. Americans for Prosperity, the Koch Brothers’ front group, dumped over $100,000 into the race supporting pro-voucher candidates. The outcome of this election puts the brakes on plans to use public dollars to pay for tuition at private schools.

Reader Comments

  1. Looks like we have a chance to end the “dumbing down” of America that the Republican party wants to see so badly.
    As Donnie John said: “I love the poorly educated.”
    Many thanks to ALL those educators who worked so hard to make America greater than it already was.

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