Loren Scott is active in Los Angeles Democratic Party politics, the NEA, California Teachers Assocation. and a representative to UTLA (United Teachers of Los Angeles). This statement is prompted by talk of NEA endorsing Hillary Clinton in the Democratic primary which will determine the party’s nominee. It was written after a tele-town hall held with national NEA members that featured Lily Eskelsen-Garcia, head of the national NEA. The statement is indicative of a sizeable number of NEA members across the country who feel an endorsement of Hillary Clinton for president is premature for varying reasons.
Statement to All UTLA and CTA Leaders,
As your elected UTLA CTA/ABC PAC representative serving in both CTA State Council and the NEA Representative Assembly. I feel I am obligated to share my feelings on the NEA potentially doing an early endorsement for Hillary Clinton. Though not on the call the entire time yesterday where Lily Eskelsen García laid out her reasoning (I was on for only 45 min), I heard enough of her analysis to come to a clear conclusion:
The NEA should NOT do an early endorsement.
Let me be frank. I serve on both the Los Angeles Democratic Party and the State Democratic party and honestly haven’t decided whom I am voting for in the primary. I believe each of the candidates has positives and negatives. Lily was well-defined on why the NEA should go with a Clinton endorsement. Her points were very clearly in front of her. But this is what I got from it…
1. Lily clearly has a personal relationship with Hillary. She admitted on the call that they are very close, that Clinton has been there whenever she has asked, and they have worked together on many, many occasions. That makes me suspect of a potential bias.
2. Lily said on more than 5 occasions that “we already know what the playing field looks like.” That is untrue. Lily didn’t once mention Joe Biden in the 45 minutes that I was on the call. Right now Biden is polling between 14 – 18% nationally despite him not even being a candidate. Many pundits agree that if he officially enters the race he will get a boost in supporters, most of which would come from Hillary, perhaps making them dead even in the polls. I’m not saying who would be a better candidate between the two, simply that you can NOT marginalize the Vice President of the United States.
3. Lily broke down the demographics of the polling to show that Sanders is weak with minorities. I believe this is because Bernie is from Vermont and most don’t know who he is. I believe things will change after the first debate when the country hears from all the candidates for the first time. Look what it did for Fiorina. One thing is for sure, Sanders is filling stadiums and gaining supporters, not losing them.
4. Lily said Sanders can’t raise the money necessary to run against the Right wing superpacs. The fact of the matter is that ANY Democratic candidate chosen in the primary will have huge superpac support. Sanders’ goal is only to raise $50 million, as opposed to Hilary who wants $100 million plus. Since April, he’s gotten 400,000 contributions from about 250,000 people, and 99 percent of those donations were $250 or less. He’s running a very strong grassroots effort whereas Clinton is relying more on big business to fund her campaign (which might be a necessary evil in today’s elections).
5. Lily said that right now is not early, most have already decided who they are voting for and we need to endorse now to be influential later. I do not subscribe to [this] line of belief. Sure, there are those that have, but there is so much time until the election a lot of things can happen. Remember, that going into the ‘08 primary, Clinton was the frontrunner and Obama came out with the nomination.
6. Lastly, Lily said that we just have to allow the people who might leave the organization due to an endorsement, to leave. That it’s always been part of the process that people have been offended at actions of this magnitude and refuse to participate because of it. According to her, our numbers have always fluctuated with elections. Again, I don’t subscribe to this either. If the endorsement was on the RA floor where it was debated and democratically voted on, I would be fully on board, even if I had a candidate that didn’t get it. But the fact that an “early” endorsement would be without an RA vote only to “revote” during the RA for the full endorsement to me is 100% unacceptable. In California, both of my Unions are dealing with dues restructuring issues in their political arms, and to ram forward a controversial action would not be conducive to any of our educational efforts locally, Statewide or Nationally.
I could go on, but due to the above reasons alone I can not support the endorsement. Again, everything said is my own belief, I have nothing against any of the candidates and feel any one of the them would be a great president, but as the political representative, that was my two cents.
CTA/ABC District J Representative,
NEA Representative Assembly member