Editor’s Note: OKGrassroots will be releasing a feature series on Education Policy and the recent Election Cycle in Oklahoma. We will take time to explore ideological differences and how those are playing out in – not only the political realm – but the public square as well as we publish information we have collected on the ‘Teacher Caucus’. Not everyone in politics tells the truth. Not all sources are reliable. Do your own homework. Follow the money. OKGrassroots hopes these articles will help people to connect the dots and make informed choices at the ballot box. Decisions are still being made in run-offs around the state./sc
This is the fourth article in our feature series on OKGrassroots:
CANDIDATE ENDORSEMENT SELECTIONS
As shared in blogs #2 and #3, the Teacher Caucus, comprised of Oklahoma Parents and Educators for Public Education (OPEPE) and Oklahomans for Public Education (OPE) have been very active in the 2016 election cycle.
Twenty of 34 OPE Senate candidates (59%) and less than half (43%) OPE House candidates are/were related to the teaching field in some way.
Seventeen of 34 OPE Senate candidates were Democrats (50%) and 16 Republican (46%) and 1 Independent (3%). In the House, of 83 OPE candidates 52 were Democrats (63%), 29 Republicans (35%) and 2 Independents (2%).
In the Senate 25 of 36 (69%) teacher-associated candidates were Democrats, 10 Republicans (28%) and 1 Independent (3%). Of the teacher-associated candidates in the House, 25 of 36 were Democrats (69%), 10 Republicans (28%) and 1 Independent (3%).
Rick Cobb, OPE Board Member says this of the list:
There were no criteria posted as to how the OPE candidates were chosen. As an OPE Facebook page administrator explains, “We didn’t base it (selections) on if they were teachers. We based it on personal recommendation for those who have been shoulder to shoulder with us advocating against issues.”
Facebook user JenNTyMartin asked 2 times for the criteria to be explained. There was no explaination made in this thread, however teacher/candidate Marilyn Pursifull Goll said, “I’m very disappointed in this group. This list was published before I was ever contacted. I’m personal acquaintances with one of the administrators and have known her for years. I’ve been a teacher for 13 years and hold a Master’s Degree in Education.”
This, after the OPE administrator said this of Gall in the earlier posting, “We sent her the criteria needed to be added to the list when she requested to be added, but never received the info from her.”
A comment was made about Jet McCoy
Candidate James Lockhart commented:
June 27th, there were more questions
Later in the same thread, a similar explanation to the June 30th was provided.
OPE endorsed Mike Mason (lost primary to incumbent Lovelace) for Senate in District 45:
OPE board member Rick Cobb endorsed Mike Mason:
June 25th, NewsOk reported that Mustang Schools Superintendent Sean McDaniel “turned himself in” for posting his endorsement of Mr. Mason for Senate on the school website. A meme was created and posted on Mr. Mason’s campaign Facebook page with McDaniel’s endorsement.
Mr. Mason is running as a Republican in this race. Oklahoma GOP Chair, Pam Pollard, released a statement on the GOP Facebook page. According to the Oklahoman,
The Oklahoma Republican Party called attention to McDaniel’s actions by sending out a news release Thursday citing his self-reporting of the incident and “calling on all school superintendents to follow the law regarding the use of taxpayer money to campaign for political candidates.”
“Pam Pollard, state Republican Party chair, said party officials decided to issue the news release after receiving reports of similar alleged violations in five school districts around the state, as well as a county commission race and a state ballot issue. About half of the complaints have involved Republicans and half Democrats, she said.”
Mr. Mason is running as a Republican. He was endorsed by Democrats.
He was given an ‘F’ on his NRA rating.
ACCUSATIONS OF POLITICAL PARTY SWITCHING
Two races endorsed by the OPE were prevented access to the state GOP database because the GOP determined them to lack the necessary Republican credentials in the race; Chuck Bretanus, running against Sean Roberts in HD36 and Brian Jackson, running against Dan Newberry in SD37. In Bretanus’ case, the state GOP was told by County officials that the candidate had run as a Democrat in a recent race and Jackson openly endorsed a Democrat for the seat for which he himself was running, according to Jake Parsons, Director of Operations at the State Republican Party.
Rick Cobb addresses Brian Jackson’s case in his blog Sixteen Days to Something Different;
OIn a Blue Cereal blog from May 2016 called Across the Isle, Dallas Koehn (OPE Board Member) says.
If the OPE ‘Teacher Caucus’ endorsement list was based primarily on ‘personal recommendations’, what does that say about those candidates listed as Triangles – those opposed to public education?
How easy or hard is it to ascribe a philosophy to a candidate (against public education) when there is no voting record to review or specific criteria upon which this category is based?
If the issue is providing more money for public education, does it matter to which party a candidate belongs to meet those ends?
Is there more to governance of a state than public education?
What happens when elections become distilled down to single issues?
Should political parties have platforms that spell out specific ideals?
Should voters base their selections based on a group of specific ideals via a political party or which single issues mean most to them?
And yes there will be a test, the next time you vote!
In a series of blogs over the next few weeks, we will take time to explore these ideological differences and how those are playing out in – not only the political realm – but the public square as well as publish information we have collected on the ‘Teacher Caucus’.
For additional information see also: