A Tip of the Hat and a Warning
There were other races that keenly interested me leading up to the recent primary. Having already commented on the congressional contest, it’s time to look at the Board of Education primary. This race was noteworthy in more than one way.
First, this is the only nonpartisan countywide election that we see in Frederick County. In other words, there was a slate of candidates to chose from, and based on the ballot, no one had any idea if the particular candidates were registered Republicans, Democrats or were not affiliated with any political party.
Now, I have no problem with having an open primary, and allowing everyone to vote, regardless of party. But I do think that nonpartisan elections run the risk of having a particular interest group overwhelm the election with spending. That clearly happened in this election.
The Frederick County Teachers Association (FCTA) spent, based on my experience in media and elections, somewhere in the neighborhood of $20-30,000 to promote its handpicked slate of candidates. Newspaper ads, robo-calls, direct mail and social media were used by the FCTA in the primary. It gave it their all. And, I have to hand it to the union. It worked and I was not surprised.
At the last minute Kirby Delauter and Billy Shreve and I decide to fight back and ran one ad in The Frederick News-Post that cost $1,280. But, it was too late and not enough. We were actually accused of giving it our all, which is laughable when compared to the amount that the teachers’ union spent on the primary election.
And because there was no political party involvement in the race, there was no effective organization to provide a counter message. Say what you will about the two party system, but it does ensure that opposing points of view can be communicated to the public, with each party getting its message out on the airwaves and in print. In this case, with no party involvement, we only heard one side of the issue, and that was the union side.
What is even more troubling about this is that the teachers’ union, with its extreme spending on this primary, is in a position to handpick the very people who will be negotiating on the other side when their contract is next up for review. That’s right, the Frederick County Teachers Association is picking the people who will be responsible to the taxpayers for negotiating a new collective bargaining agreement with the teachers’ union when its contract is up for renewal. I cannot blame the teachers as they have more to gain and or loss then any special interest group. That makes them very motivated.
The teachers’ union played within the rules, and what they did was legal and very smart. But unless the taxpayers get a similar voice in the general election, I fear they will be the ones to pay for the free spending electioneering ways of the local teachers’ union.
I do know that Colleen Cusimano and Tony Chmelik, if he makes it onto the general election ballot, are both Republicans. Both are the only conservative choices selection in the General Election, and I will spread the word among Republicans who care about school choice, responsible spending and truly putting the needs of the children as a top priority.