There was important news coming from the April UFT Delegate Assembly as the body voted overwhelmingly in favor of the UFT endorsing a candidate in September's Democratic primary. This decision was made after a somewhat interesting, but as usual one sided, discussion that included active members and retirees.
The issue was whether or not to endorse and when to endorse rather than who to support.
Most speakers gave a history of UFT endorsements that were either successful or were busts. Specifically, Delegates boasted about the UFT turning the tide for Tony Avella in his Senate race when most other unions endorsed 38 year incumbent Frank Padavan. The UFT stood with Avella and he was victorious and now two Delegates noted we have him as a friend in the State Senate. (Knowing Avella fairly well, I think he was our friend when he was in the City Council before the 2010 endorsement and even when we did not endorse his 2009 mayoral bid.)
Another successful UFT campaign that was mentioned was last year's election of President Barack Obama. Secretary Michael Mendel then reached back to 1998 when the UFT led a huge upset victory when Chuck Schumer knocked off eighteen year veteran US Senator Al D'Amato, who had been bashing teachers as a large part of his reelection strategy.
The positive stories were offset by Delegates actually raising two campaigns when the UFT failed in its mayoral endorsements. In 2001, the UFT supported three candidates who all lost: Alan Hevesi in the Democratic primary, Fernando Ferrer in the runoff and then Mark Green in the general election. Retiree John Soldini warned us that we can't turn negative on Democrats we don't endorse because we might want to later endorse a candidate, if that person beats our favorite, and we don't want to bloody the primary winner who will need our support in the general election.
Delegates also admitted that by not supporting Bill Thompson for mayor in 2009, we helped Bloomberg win his disastrous third term. Staff Directory Leroy Barr then made a motion for the UFT to endorse a candidate in the primary and work to get that person elected mayor.It carried easily.
As to which candidate the UFT will endorse, that was not part of the discussion.
We will report on the rest of the DA when we get a chance.