ALBANY, N.Y. Sept. 14, 2016 – Candidates backed by New York State United Teachers' powerful political operation – combining "feet on the street" with independent expenditures – scored big primary victories Tuesday.
In the run-up to primary night, NYSUT deployed hundreds of volunteer activists who canvassed neighborhoods and made more than 50,000 member-to-member contacts, making a clear difference in what typically are low-turnout primary races.
"It's pretty simple: We unequivocally support those who stand with us on the important issues facing our members, and aggressively oppose those who fail to respect the voices of educators and work to protect public education and organized labor," said NYSUT President Karen E. Magee.
NYSUT Executive Vice President Andrew Pallotta, who oversees the union's legislative and political operation, said NYSUT's "ground game" especially showed tremendous strength in defending four Democrats attacked by New Yorkers for Independent Action, a PAC formed by wealthy supporters of private education tax credits.
Pallotta said Assembly members Phil Ramos, Pamela Harris and Latrice Walker, and Sen. Gustavo Rivera all scored primary victories with the backing of hundreds of NYSUT volunteers and about $250,000 in independent expenditures. New Yorkers for Independent Action, backed by the voucher industry, spent at least $1.5 million on dark money attack ads and mailers in these races to no real effect.
Pallotta said NYSUT's vaunted political operation also factored heavily in primary victories by Rochester-area Assemblyman Harry Bronson; NYSUT member Monica Wallace in Western New York's 143rd Assembly District; and in many other races, including wins by Assemblywoman Ellen Jaffee; Sen. Toby Stavisky and Republican senatorial candidate James Tedisco.
"NYSUT members have good memories. They know who consistently champions public education and working families, and who votes the 'right way' on issues that impact their classrooms and their families," Pallotta said. "We are proud to support our friends with feet on the street and the financial resources necessary, and now look forward to helping them and others win election in November."
New York State United Teachers is a statewide union with more than 600,000 members in education, human services and health care. NYSUT is affiliated with the American Federation of Teachers, the National Education Association and the AFL-CIO.