Last Saturday’s front page New York Times article told the story of the unprecedented flood of Wall Street and hedge fund money into primary elections, targeting elected officials who had the courage to oppose their anti-public education and ‘blame the teacher’ agenda. But from New York to Washington DC, Democrats for Education Reform [DFER] supported campaigns went down to crushing defeat in election after election.
In New York City, the three high profile African-American State Senators on the top of the DFER hit list — Bill Perkins of Harlem, Velmanette Montgomery of Brooklyn and Shirley Huntley of Queens — won re-election in landslides with the support of the UFT. Perkins beat Basil Smikle and Huntley beat Lynn Nunes by 3 to 1 margins and Montgomery beat Mark Pollard by a 4 to 1 margin. In an open State Senate seat in northern Manhattan and the Bronx, UFT-backed Adriano Espaillat bested DFER’s Mark Levine by over 10 percentage points. In the Bronx, UFT and union supported insurgent Gustavo Rivera beat Pedro Espada, Jr. by a margin of nearly 2 to 1. Espada, currently under investigation on charges of corruption, was one of the three Democrat State Senators who had joined with the Republican caucus in the infamous Albany coup d’êtat that paralyzed state government; he was a favorite of Wall Street, real estate and anti-public education interests. In Queens, Hiram Monserrate, another of the three turncoat State Senators who was convicted of misdemeanor assault in a domestic violence case, was trounced 2 to 1 by UFT supported Francisco Moya. In congressional races, UFT supported Carolyn Maloney beat Wall Street candidate Reshma Saujani by a 4 to 1 margin and UFT supported Charles Rangel swept to re-election against 5 opponents, including DFER favorite Adam Clayton Powell IV.
The sole Wall Street and DFER victory in New York City was in the 73rd Assembly District, where incumbent Jonathan Bing put together the largest campaign treasury for Assembly candidates across the state and rode a 10 to 1 financial advantage to victory over public school teacher and UFT member Gregg Lundahl. Bing, who had sponsored legislation to allow the DoE to lay off New York City public school teachers without regard for the collective bargaining agreement, had received donations from Chancellor Joel Klein and his wife, among others. Lundahl’s valiant campaign against overwhelming odds sent a clear message that those who lead attacks on us will not go unchallenged.
In statewide races, UFT and union backed progressive Eric Schneiderman won a hotly contested race for the Democratic nomination for State Attorney General, beating four other candidates. In Buffalo, DFER favorite Assemblyman Sam Hoyt narrowly squeaked to victory over his opponent.
In Washington DC, incumbent Mayor Adrian Fenty was decisively defeated by challenger Vincent Gray in an election widely seen as a referendum on the antagonistic, divisive education policies of his school’s Chancellor Michelle Rhee. In the weeks leading up to the DC election it became clear that Fenty’s overwhelming financial advantage was not enough to overcome the Rhee legacy, and desperate Rhee supporters issued ever increasingly shrill threats on the dire consequences of turning Fenty out. In the blogosphere, DFER supporters argued that the election had little to do with Rhee’s policies, and looked about for someone else to blame for the coming defeat. Despite Secretary of Education Arne Duncan’s transparent efforts to support Fenty, some even blamed President Obama for not actively intervening in the election.
It all reminds one of the Bertolt Brecht poem, “The Solution,” written in response to a East German apparatchik’s statement that the people “had forfeited the support of the government” by rising up against the Stalinist regime. Brecht wryly concluded,
Would it not be easier
In that case for the government
To dissolve the people
And elect another?