(Teachers, I don’t know if you can trust anything posted on the Oklahoma Parents and Educators for Public Education page at this point. People possess vested personal interests. Do your own research. Don’t rely on a Facebook page. Don’t take my word for it, either.—Kurt Hochenauer)
What if you support a supposed weaker or maybe a little better candidate on the other side in a primary election, and then your support ends up electing that person to office instead of the candidate definitely on the side of an organization you represent?
That’s what could happen in the District 41 State Senate race in Edmond to replace Clark Jolley, the term-limited, anti-education, right-wing extremist. The organization Oklahoma Parents and Educators for Public Education continues its support for Republican Adam Pugh over Republican Paul Blair, but a very REAL teacher, Kevin McDonald, a member of the Democratic Party, waits in the wings for the general election. He needs support now.
When will the organization strongly support McDonald instead of a candidate, who announces boldly on his web site: “Adam Pugh: A Conservative Patriot.”? Here’s more from the site: “I have flown missions across the globe and I understand that freedom is worth fighting for, on the battlefield and in the halls of our Capitol.” (Oh yeah, he notes that he has been a substitute teacher.) The Fight. The Battlefield. The Freedom. That’s what he seems to be all about. He’s pandering to the right-wing voter base.
The idea of supporting the supposedly weaker or maybe a little better candidate on the opposing side in a primary election is nothing new nor is voting for the lesser of the two evils. The problem becomes that it can confuse voters when an organization gives unabashed support for a primary candidate even though it supposedly, maybe or not, is going to support another candidate in the general election. It can become dishonest, and, yes, I get that politics is basically a totally dishonest endeavor with a few notable exceptions.
I don’t want Paul Blair to win the seat either. Blair could become the state’s new Sally Kern, only even more powerful, dangerous and radical. He’s the pastor of the Fairview Baptist Church in Edmond. He’s also a former NFL player. He also actively opposes and fights against same-sex marriage and reproductive rights for women.
But would the conservative patriot Adam Pugh be much better? Maybe.
Pugh came within an inch of beating Blair in the Republican primary, earning 49.89 percent of the vote. A few votes more, and, presto, there’s the race in the general election between him and McDonald, who didn’t have a primary opponent on the Democratic side. But the “few votes more” to get to the 51 percent threshold didn’t happen so there will be a Republican runoff on Aug. 23. Oklahoma Parents and Educators for Public Education was still touting Pugh, who has apparently endorsed the organization in some form or manner I guess, on their Facebook page as of Wednesday evening and early Thursday morning.
— NewsOK (@NewsOK) June 29, 2016
I tried to post three comments on the organization’s Facebook page asking about Pugh’s education bonafides. Each comment was deleted. Then I was blocked from the page. I can only speculate about the site at this point because I’m blocked. Let’s be clear, however, about the pragmatics of this because this seems to be an issue for one of the co-founders of the organization. I posted one comment and then noted it wasn’t showing. It didn’t even dawn on me that my comment was deleted because it was so innocuous. So I posted another comment, merely thinking that I had failed to hit return or that there was a glitch with my internet connection. When the second comment vanished from the site, I became suspicious it was intentionally deleted so I posted another comment just to make sure. Yes, that comment, simply asking why Adam Pugh is considered an “education candidate” vanished as well, and then I was blocked from the site. I wasn’t flooding the page with flame-war comments or vitriol as the co-founder seemed to imply. After my last try at posting a comment, I went to bed. I didn’t post anything about it on my Facebook page or try to contact anyone with the organization at that point.
I did talk the next day to that co-founder of the organization, Angela Clark Little (see screen shot above), who defended her organization’s right to delete my comments, block me from posting on its site and her support for Pugh. (This is not a good sign, folks, when it comes to freedom of speech and democratic process.) Little is not an educator. She has described herself as a “Republican Parent” in a tweet on her Twitter account. She has apparently worked or still works at Devon Energy. That makes good ol’ Okie sense in all this. She got paid or is getting paid because of, at least partially on some level, the huge state tax breaks given to the oil and gas industry, tax breaks that have devastated funding for Oklahoma education. She’s now enthusiastically supporting a right-wing Republican for a state Senate seat. Nothing new here.
Again, I don’t think my comments were belligerent. I’m not going to go into my conversation with Little in detail. Basically, what I determined from Little is that it’s all about playing politics, but, in my view, in a very damaging, dishonest and soul-destroying way. More important, it’s not clear to me still who the organization is going to support in the general election for the District 41 Senate seat. The reason for this is because I’m unsure how a major leader in an organization can tout a candidate one day and then the next day just drop that support and not think there won’t be an impact or consequences. Will that happen in this case? Who knows? Doesn’t the organization lose credibility at that point if it does support another candidate? Yes.
It’s confusing to me and everyone. It’s one thing to support a candidate of a different, hostile party and allegiance in a primary election in a behind-the-scenes way. It’s quite another to make a big deal of that support. I’m speaking up here for teachers and other educators, not the right-wingers riding on the coattails of a supposed pro-education movement that has yet to show it has really coalesced. I do want it to coalesce very much, of course, but I’m very unsure about that happening now given my recent interaction with whatever it is at this point.
Teachers, I don’t know if you can trust anything posted on Oklahoma Parents and Educators for Public Education page at this point. People possess vested personal interests. Do your own research. Don’t rely on a Facebook page. Don’t take my word for it, either.
Let’s be clear on this one basic point: I think the clear choice for the Edmond District 41 Senate seat is Kevin McDonald, a teacher in the Edmond School District. He’s running as a member of the Democratic Party so maybe that will mean he automatically loses in conservative Edmond. But he’s still the best candidate for the position. I urge Oklahoma Parents and Educators for Public Education to aggressively support him right now.