Why I Support IEA’s Dillard Recommendation by Bob Haisman, past IEA President (a response to the previous post)
23 days till The Illinois Primary Election …
I agree with the IEA’s recommendation of Kirk Dillard in the Republican Gubernatorial Primary on March 18, 2014.
Of all the activities IEA engages in, recommendations to our members about who to perhaps vote for is often the most controversial and I think often the most misunderstood.
You do not have to be a political expert to realize the Governor Election of 2014 is going to be a very challenging proposition. IEA has recommended to its members Senator Kirk Dillard in the Republican November 18 primary. IEA did not make a recommendation in the Democratic Primary for Governor. You cannot consider IEA’s nod to Kirk Dillard without examining the whole Republican field of candidates for Governor.
Bill Brady – the super right-wing Republican Senator who managed to lose to Quinn four years ago, is “not endorsable”.
Dan Rutherford – in the quick-sand of a very, very problematic scandal and is “not endorsable”.
Senator Kirk Dillard was a candidate for Governor four years ago. He was IEA’s recommended candidate in the primary. A moderate Republican, he ran courageously against right-winger Senator Bill Brady in the Republican primary. Dillard lost by 200 votes. He was then a moderate Republican, who had worked with the IEA and whom the IEA had previously recommended for the State Senator to our members. Dillard –yesterday’s moderate -- has moved to more conservative positions as his party has shifted Right, which has made him more difficult to recommend. However....
Then there is Bruce Rauner. Bruce Rauner is real, real trouble for Public Education and Teachers. He just loves Charter Schools and Merit Pay and Vouchers and testing, testing, testing. He would like to see nothing less than a dismantling of the Public Schools. He wants to end our defined benefit pensions program, do away with TRS and put all teachers on self-funded 401Ks - as only an Ultra-Right Winger could. He hates all Unions. He does not agree with Collective Bargaining, especially for teachers. He hates ALL UNIONS but especially public employee unions. He hates Teacher Unions the most! He Hates the IEA and our leaders. He hates all taxes, is against any raise in the income tax at anytime and would defund education – further - before raising the income tax a single dollar. That is only the only the tip of the ICE BERG. He is an Illinois Scott Walker waiting to be sprung on Illinois. Rauner is a political neophyte: an Ultra Rich Right-Wing member of the 1% and an ideologue who is using portions of his vast personal wealth to finance his own campaign. He has out-raised and out spent all the other Republican Candidates. He leads the field by 20 percentage points. He is attempting to buy the governorship in a self-financed campaign.
Rauner is also the hand-picked candidate of the Chicago Civic Committee. Their plan is working!!
Dillard is a past friend of the IEA. He has worked with four IEA Presidents. Kirk Dillard is somebody we have been able to recommend before. Dillard does not hate the IEA. While not a push-over, he is a friend who we have worked with. He means active and retired teachers NO harm. On the other hand, Bruce Rauner means to harm active teachers, retired teachers and are unions.
Kirk Dillard knows Public Education, and understands how it is funded. Dillard does not want to defund it or dismantle it.
Kirk Dillard’s father was a teacher. His Father Ed taught at Hinsdale High School. Kirk graduated from Hinsdale High School. Kirk’s dad was an IEA member. He retired under TRS. Kirk’s dad bargained for my local. Kirk Dillard remembers his dad being proud in his role as negotiator. Kirk was there when Governor Thompson signed IEA’s CB Bill. Dillard supports collective bargaining for teachers.
Kirk Dillard voted against Pension Bill SB 1. He believes it is an unconstitutional solution to the pension crisis. Before his death in the middle of the 2010 campaign, his dad was a retired teacher under TRS. Dillard understands that public school teachers need a strong TRS and stable pension.
Dillard is a Republican in today’s anti-tax, anti-spend Republican Party. But Dillard is at his heart a “Thompson Republican” -- who at his core wants government to work and to solve problems. IEA feels it could work with Dillard, even conceivably partner with him – while there is no chance to do that with a Bruce Rauner.
Kirk Dillard provides a more moderate choice for our members taking a Republican Ballot on November 18 Primary Election.
He gives us a chance to stop -- in the Primary – Illinois’ ‘Scot Walker,” anti-public school teacher, Ultra Right-Winger: Bruce Rauner.
Is Dillard the perfect candidate? NO. Is any candidate perfect? We will always have differences -- even with our friends.
You commented, John, that you thought this recommendation of Dillard was a poor strategy. IPACE giving money for his primary bid was a fool's errand.
Others have criticized the Dillard recommendation on it's merits, Dillard's record, various statements.
I first want to make the point that criticism of this recommendation is not coming from the political "professionals.” The seasoned Political Pro’s recognize the political quagmire IEA is immersed in. They see the Dillard move as a strategic one and a smart one in a non-perfect difficult political time. I started this commentary by saying the most controversial activity IEA (actually IPACE -IEA's Political Action arm) engages in are political recommendations. When I was IEA president -- we rescinded a recommendation (Edgar), backed the "perfect" candidate for pensions and public education (Netsch) and lost monumentally and supported a winner who delivered on all his promises to us but did not end well (Ryan). All those moves were controversial. All raised the ire of our members. And to this day, in my opinion, they were right for the times.
These recommendations are not performed in a smoke filled room: at least three levels of IEA Governance voted on the Dillard recommendation. Probably 100 elected union representatives, all educators voted at all levels. They sincerely studied the issues and believed they were doing the right thing. These were not 'squeaker votes.' I believe they were all unanimous or close to unanimous! (If you want a detailed review of the IEA/IPACE recommendation process, write me. It is not easy to win IEA's (IPACE) recommendation!
The following statement that will anger people, the naïve, and folks who do not understand the process one goes through to make a recommendation like this. It will set some critics of the recommendation "OFF," but this is not a totally transparent process. In the world of competitive politics it cannot be. Reach outs are made, proposals floated, answers given, and candid assessments made that just cannot be shared, not publicly. The only people who get to vote on these recommendations are elected IEA governance according to long established by-laws and procedures. The 100 elected educators making the series of votes that brought us the Dillard recommendation were given access to information that must remain private. I know some feel that this "private information" argument is bogus, but if they do, in my opinion they have never participated in a formal political recommendation process before. If they had, they might know better!
We reached out to candidates who were flattered but said NO. We saw promising campaigns self-destruct. Nobody but the very ultra rich have enough money. No organization has enough money to fund a campaign of its own. Before you get a date to the prom you might reject a number of potential dates for reasons that must remain private...you might be turned down by a number of persons you asked. Once you have a date to the prom you do not talk about the people you would have liked to have taken or the potential dates who turned you down. You go with the date that you choose and said YES! And don't talk about the others...it is considered bad taste. It is the same when recommending someone for Governor. To think it should be otherwise is naive, unrealistic and counter-productive.
IPACE is investing $250,000 dollars in Dillard's cash-strapped campaign. Believe me, his campaign does not think it is an insignificant donation! But your right, John ...it is not enough. No where close to enough. However there again a number of issues around funding that cannot be discussed publicly; there are five other unions that may also contribute. This is a good investment to see if Dillard can begin to climb out of his hole. If he doesn't turn things around, it was an investment in action instead of dithering. If it works it could be added to later – perhaps by all the unions! If the "gamble" works it could save us from a Scott Walker and be the best money IPACE ever invested. It could be. We don't know. It is a gamble. A gamble trying to squash a potential disaster.
The IPACE donation is NOT DUES money but donations to IPACE by members. This donation was not generated in a vacuum. IPACE has been saving money for the gubernatorial election. There was an expectation that IPACE would be active in both primaries. We are not now active in the Democratic Governor's race. IPACE has devised a campaign budget with money being left for the Big Show. Does IPACE wish it had 8 million dollars to influence the primary and the General election? Sure! We have a limited budget and we try to maximize its influence. Believe me, political professionals do not think much of a recommendation without any donation. The IRTA's recommendation to its members without any donation is a case in point. This donation was not "just come up with"; indeed, there is a budget, strategy and thoughtful decision-making. Just because we don't know the procedure or what goes into it does not mean there was no procedures followed.
The alternative? – an unhampered Rauner run for the nomination. I applaud IEA for trying a number of alternatives to stop Rauner and acting on one that was viable.
I urge YOU to take a Republican Ballot and VOTE IEA’s Recommendation -- it is our only chance of stopping Rauner -- If you have questions, complaints, "issues" with the Dillard recommendation write me?? ask me! I think I have answers for the critics.....