As The Tennessee Star has reported, Tennessee House Speaker Beth Harwell has received the Tennessee Education Association’s endorsement for the Republican nomination for Governor.
The Tennessee Education Association Fund for Children and Public Education (TEA-FCPE), which is the PAC and political arm for the teachers’ union in Tennessee, has endorsed House Speaker Beth Harwell for the Republican nomination for Governor. The TEA’s PAC also endorsed House Minority Leader Craig Fitzhugh in the Democratic Party primary.
Harwell welcomed the endorsement: “I am honored to receive the endorsement of the Tennessee Education Association,” Harwell said. “Education is my top priority, and as Speaker of the Tennessee House of Representatives, I have led some of our boldest reforms that resulted in Tennessee being one of the fastest improving states in education.”
But, is this an endorsement that will actually help Harwell in her race for the nomination, or could it backfire?
The Star went on to explore the potential downside in its previous coverage.
The endorsement of the liberal TEA will not play well for Harwell in a contested Republican Primary for Governor. A Tennessee Star Poll conducted a few months ago reveals that accepting TEA money and support may come at a high cost for candidates in Republican primaries. The Tennessee Star Poll was conducted by Triton Polling December 12-18, 2017 and included 1000 likely GOP Primary voters from across the state. Respondents were asked:
The Tennessee Education Association and National Education Association are unions that use Tennessee teachers’ dues to oppose the Second Amendment, support Planned Parenthood, and attempt to elect political candidates like Hillary Clinton. Would you be more likely or less likely to support a Republican candidate for the state house or senate who accepts money from these organizations?
Of those polled, 6.3% indicated that the TEA/NEA support would make them “more likely” to support a Republican candidate; 76.3% would be “less likely” to support such a candidate; and 17.3% were “not sure or didn’t know.” With such high opposition to TEA money and influence among likely GOP primary voters, Republican candidates who have accept financial support and endorsements from TEA can certainly expect their opponents to use that information in campaign attack ads — if they are considered to be competitive. With Harwell currently polling in low single digits, her Republican primary opponents will probably ignore her and the TEA endorsement.
In the embedded audio below, conservative political commentator and Tennessee Star Political Editor Steve Gill of The Gill Report, broadcast live on WETR 92.3 FM in Knoxville explores the potential for blow back in more detail.