The campaign against the pro-charter school political organization “StudentsFirstNY” is amassing support from current and aspiring politicians.
The anti-StudentsFirst group formed last week and quickly caused a number of 2013 mayoral candidates looking at signing on a pledge to avoid any contributions from StudentsFirst, with Comptroller John Liu completely signing on and Council Speaker Christine Quinn declining to do so. But pro-public school advocates didn’t slow down there and they’ve rolled out a plethora of officials who have signed the pledge, including contenders for Gracie Mansion, various borough halls, and the City Council.
The group calls StudentsFirst “RomneyFirst” due to its overlapping donors with the GOP presidential candidate.
“As someone who has fought throughout my adult life for quality public schools for all and to give every child a chance to succeed, I find the connections outlined in this report between StudentsFirst and Mitt Romney’s backwards agenda alarming and disturbing,” Councilman Robert Jackson, a candidate for Manhattan Borough President, said in an attached statement this afternoon. “For that reason, I will not accept contributions to my campaign for Borough President from StudentsFirst.”
To some extent, the challenge to StudentsFirst has already had its first battle when Assemblyman Hakeem Jeffries publicly called on the organization to pull its independent expenditure on behalf of his congressional campaign last June.
For their part, StudentsFirst likely views this development as testament to the influence of the teacher’s unions that they formed to be a counterweight against in the first place.
“Clearly, the teachers’ union is so desperate to suppress a serious conversation about improving teacher quality and expanding school options for kids that it has set up a front group to threaten elected officials and concoct conspiracy theories,” Glen Weiner, the group’s deputy executive director, wrote to the New York Times when the “RomneyFirst” framing first emerged.
Update: As predicted, Mr. Weiner was less than impressed with today’s announcement.
“A press release stating the teachers union can buy off or bully a couple of dozen politicians who think the current education system is just fine is hardly news,” he said in a statement. “In fact, it’s one of the reasons StudentsFirstNY was formed.”
View the full anti-“RomneyFirst” list below:
Senator Eric Adams, Candidate for Brooklyn Borough President
Assemblyman Jeff Aubry
City Council Member Charles Barron
Assemblywoman Inez Barron
Assemblyman Michael Benedetto
Assemblyman William Colton
City Council Member Leroy Comrie, Candidate for Queens Borough President
City Council Member Daniel Dromm
City Council Member Julissa Ferraras
Assemblywoman Deborah Glick
Jesus Gonzalez, City Council candidate
Noah Gotbaum, Candidate for Public Advocate
Senator Shirley Huntley
City Council Member Robert Jackson, Candidate for Manhattan Borough President
City Council Member Letitia James, Candidate for Public Advocate
Senator Liz Krueger
City Council Member Brad Lander
City Council Member Stephen Levin
Comptroller John Liu, Candidate for Mayor
Assemblyman Alan Maisel
City Council Member Melissa Mark-Viverito
Jason Otaño, Candidate for State Senate
Senator Kevin Parker
Assemblyman Nick Perry
City Council Member Diana Reyna
Antonio Reynoso, Candidate for City Council
Donovan Richards, Candidate for City Council
Senator Gustavo Rivera
Community Board 7 Member Helen Rosenthal Candidate for NYC Council
City Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer
Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez
City Council Member Mark Weprin
City Council Member Jumaane Williams