Monday, April 17, 2017

Democrats link party rivals to DeVos as 2018 fights emerge - POLITICO

Democrats link party rivals to DeVos as 2018 fights emerge - POLITICO:

Democrats link party rivals to DeVos as 2018 fights emerge
Teachers unions and others are attacking charter supporters in California, New York and New Jersey for doing the administration's 'dirty work.'

LOS ANGELES — It’s rare that Democrats are cast as puppets of the Trump administration. But on the issue of education, many Democrats who have long supported school choice are newly on the defensive within their party, forced to distance themselves from President Donald Trump and his education secretary, Betsy DeVos.

The unusual dynamic started soon after Trump’s inauguration, when a teachers union in Los Angeles sent voters mail depicting two charter-school-friendly school board contenders, both Democrats, as “the candidates who will implement the Trump/DeVos education agenda in LA.”

The message was repeated in New York, where the Alliance for Quality Education, an advocacy group partially funded by teachers unions, likened Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s education policies to Trump’s. The group urged online audiences to “stop Cuomo from doing Betsy DeVos’s dirty work.” In New Jersey, Sen. Cory Booker opposed DeVos’ appointment but came in for criticism for working with DeVos on school choice initiatives when he was mayor of Newark.

Though Democrats across the country widely repudiated DeVos, publicity surrounding her controversial appointment has allowed a new line of attack on members of the party who, while resisting school vouchers and certain teacher performance measures, have embraced charter school expansion and other education policies opposed by unions and traditional public school advocates.

Labor-backed Democrats are seizing on the DeVos issue as an opportunity ahead of the 2018 primary elections. In the race for California governor, Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom invoked DeVos’ appointment last month, telling a crowd in Hollister, California, that education would be the “wedge issue” in the 2018 campaign.

“The opportunity to brand a reformer as a Trump/DeVos Republican is a real risk for a Democrat,” said Mattis Goldman, a political consultant advising charter school ally Marshall Tuck in his campaign for California state superintendent of public instruction. “It’s important for candidates who disagree with that to make sure that doesn’t happen.”

Tuck opposed DeVos’ appointment. But Goldman noted that “the winds of the situation are a little bit perilous for [reform] Democrats these days because you Democrats link party rivals to DeVos as 2018 fights emerge - POLITICO: