Monday, APRIL 5, 2021 -
Friday night I posted an early version of this story about the UFT final four mayoral forum this Wednesday, April 7. I reposted earlier today and then even more info came in - so this is a 4th rewrite.
---- Norm Scott
UFT Media Advisory: UFT Invites "Final Four" Candidates to Forum, Sets Stage for Endorsement in Democratic Mayoral Primary: Four candidates for the June Democratic primary -- Eric Adams, Scott Stringer, Maya Wiley and Andrew Yang -- have been invited to take part in the final mayoral forum sponsored by the United Federation of Teachers... The forum, chaired by UFT President Michael Mulgrew, will be held on Wednesday, April 7, at 4 p.m. at UFT headquarters at 52 Broadway. Mulgrew and the candidates are expected to appear in person (socially distanced), along with a small audience of UFT members. All others, including the press, will be able to watch online. --- UFT MediaThere are a lot of knots in recent events surrounding the UFT process for endorsing a candidate for mayor, something they haven't gotten right since Dinkins 30 years ago. Bloomberg called a UFT endorsement the kiss of death. Maybe they should sit this one out.
And what exactly is the process for endorsing candidates? Three guys and gals in a room? I mean how exactly was the final four chosen?
Watch the name Cassie Prugh, UFT's high level political operative who comes straight from the Cuomo administration. She fits perfectly with the Machiavellian operation at Unity Caucus. What did she know and when did she know it when she worked for Cuomo? She's a major player in UFT political decisions.
Did Yang have to make a three point shot at the buzzer to make the final four?
People were shocked at the inclusion of Yang, who had attacked the UFT and blamed the union for keeping schools closed, clearly wrongheaded and mistaken since it has been the rank and file resistance that would never have opened schools in the first place and has been critical of the leadership for even considering to work with de Blasio to open schools partially.
Mulgrew had recently referred to Yang as "Bloomberg Reincarnated." But he's under consideration? But in Arthur's notes Mulgrew said: To not have Yang would be crazy because he's frontrunner in every poll. Would be irresponsible not to have him answer. Not just about policy, but viability.
No less an eminence than Diane Ravitch, upon hearing the news asked:
Why is Andrew Yang in the final four when he supports public money for religious schools and more charters?
I would ask the same question, though our own glorious national leader also supports public money for religious schools. [Outrage at Randi Grows -- Schumer and a Teachers’ Union Leader Secure Billions for Private Schools, NYT]
And of course Adams is also pro-charter - so two out of the four finalists seem willing to turn more of our public schools over to anti-union charters. A giant WTF.
My first thought was that the UFT can't really endorse Yang - maybe Adams - but they are the front runners so the UFT plays the "who can possibly win" game even of they would screw the membership.
Rank choice voting gives the UFT a few options.
I always thought long-time UFT ally Stringer would get a/the nod (he ended Eva's political career) and there is support for Wiley among some in the leadership. I heard Wiley on Brian Lehrer today and she was good. But as an MSNBC person we know she had to toe a center/mederate Dem line. She's moved left since but not that far the UFT couldn't pick her.
Will the UFT leadership play multiple cards like they did in the Democratic Presidency endorsement when they played a Biden- Warren- Sanders card -- of course Bernie would never have gotten the final nod and corporate Dem central preferred Trump -- have I told you Dem centrists like the UFT leaders would prefer the devil to the left?
Why did pro-charter Eric Adams make the cut? He's a leader in the polls after Yang. It's the political game ---
these two are leading the pack and have a better shot at being mayor
but the UFT can't go that far to endorse them. Anyway, including pro-charter people at all sends a bad message.
Which is why Diane Morales, who definitely tilts left despite being a former UFT member, got no mileage. She wasn't happy.
If the UFT has a final four, does MORE have a final two?
I heard Morales on a good interview with MORE Caucus last week and she was good - maybe the most teacher friendly - though I still hold it against her for taking a job with Joel Klein. She and Maya seem to be working together as Maya has her as the number two choice - and Maya is scheduled to be interviewed by MORE soon - which also causes me to wonder - in the past a candidate would have been scared to death to go to a caucus that opposed Unity. This issue bears further exploration in the future - MORE has grown so influential as to attract mainstream interest. But I also note as a founder of MORE but no longer involved that we always took the position of not getting involved in political races. I'm thinking of the influence of the Democratic Socialists in MORE, since DSA had had success electorally - see Ross Barkan below. Maybe the MORE leadership which eschewed Dem Party involvement have changed with more openly leftist candidates running.
Has the choice been made and the final four a sham or is there some flex?
A few more notes:
Mr. Mulgrew said: "Of the 12 candidates who have appeared at preliminary UFT forums, these four have reached the final round. Educators participating in this event will drill down, ask tough questions and see who really has what it takes to be a great mayor for public education and our city."
Who are these participating educators? Unity Caucus flacks or real educators?
I bet a thousand on flacks.
Let me close with a Ross Barkan analysis of the mayoral race from the center, liberal and left perspective. DSA is a major player and their stake in MORE is interesting - if they bring their A game to UFT elections, watch out.
Go to the link and read the entire piece.
roughly, the American left is split among three groups: the moderates, democratic socialists, and left-liberals. These factions are as much voter classifications as they are descriptions of particular organizations. Some people wouldn’t self-identify with the labels at all. And, as I always insist, there’s plenty of overlap.
The mayoral race is not going well for the left-liberals. Scott Stringer and Maya Wiley have been running in this lane, chasing younger progressives, MSNBC viewers, and even socialists as they try to knit together a winning coalition. Neither has managed to poll as high as second in the Democratic primary. One problem both have is that DSA didn’t endorse in the mayoral race and their significant electoral infrastructure won’t be deployed for any candidate. Stringer, as a white man, has run up against a wall with left-liberals who prize seeing a person of color rise. Wiley, a Black woman, has won more generous press coverage, but has struggled to attract attention from voters. Neither Wiley nor Stringer are especially charismatic; Wiley’s backstory is more compelling, but her most recent city experience is as Bill de Blasio’s counsel. Dianne Morales is hunting for socialist votes and gaining momentum, but she’s not a DSA candidate and her background—as a well-compensated nonprofit executive executive—and the lingo her campaign deploys are more left-liberal in orientation.
The moderates are faring better. Eric Adams, the Brooklyn borough president, has consistently polled second. Andrew Yang, who can blend moderate, left-liberal, and some socialist sensibilities, is in first. Neither of them have any deep ties to the nonprofit left organizations like the WFP, Make the Road, and New York Communities for Change. Neither would ever win an endorsement from Elizabeth Warren. Neither support defunding the police. Adams, a former police captain, is a reformer, but would not cut headcount. Yang, to the consternation of the left, has called for more police in subways. Though he has spoken often of late about his Asian identity in light of the rising hate attacks against Asian-Americans, Yang has a long-running skepticism of identity-based politicking, saying in 2019 that he didn’t think “it’s a great way to try to build consensus or bring people together or get big policies across the finish line.” Yang added that it was a “stupid way” for trying to win elections.
Identity politics, built around both racial and ethnic identity, has a deep tradition in New York, where outer borough ethnics erected political machines around what European country their grandfathers came from. Moderates can engage in it as much as left-liberals. But the old-fashioned, identity-based coalition-building of a Barack Obama or David Dinkins has less in common with the CRT-inflected identity appeals that come straight from the academy and can be seen, most clearly, in the underperforming presidential campaigns of Warren and Julián Castro.
If the moderate candidates, and their coalitions, can capture City Hall and the comptroller’s offices, they will exist as the primary, if temporary, bulwark against DSA. There are no DSA candidates competing for citywide or countywide offices this year, but in 2029, the next time term-limits will force municipal politicians from office, the socialists will have a far deeper bench. It’s not impossible that four or five or six DSA members could enter the next City Council. Any of the current socialist legislators could seek higher office. The WFP-aligned lawmakers, like Jessica Ramos and Alessandra Biaggi, share much of the DSA policy aims in Albany.
With the rise of DSA and the durability of anti-socialist moderates, it’s easy to imagine, years from now, these two factions becoming far more dominant in New York. DSA is highly-organized, with a high ceiling for growth. They’re picky endorsers, which means large slates of socialists won’t enter office together in any one cycle, but their influence has clearly been felt in the state legislature already. At the same juncture, an anti-DSA bloc will inevitably rise: of moderates wary of the socialist label, who are willing to pull closer to the police and real estate. New York City itself has a very diverse ideological electorate and there’s no guarantee that today’s immigrant class, as they age and acquire wealth, won’t evolve in the same direction the Irish and Italians of yore did: toward a patriotic, pro-capitalist, and pro-police worldview. Rising shootings and murder rates can push them there even faster. And then, unable to excite the young socialists and unable to placate the rising tide of people with no interest in their buzzy nonprofits, left-liberals may be left in an uncomfortable place.