In a news conference Sunday afternoon, three teachers unions endorsed Democrat Kendra Horn for re-election to a second term in Congress representing Oklahoma’s Congressional District 5.
Cities in CD-5 include Oklahoma City, Edmond, Shawnee, and Holdenville.
She is opposed by Republican State Senator Stephanie Bice.
The Oklahoma Education Association, the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) – Oklahoma, and the Oklahoma City Local of the AFT all gave ringing endorsements of the sitting Congresswoman.
This follows the earlier announcement that the National Education Association with which the OEA affiliates had given her an “A” rating.
“She gets it”
Two union presidents spoke during the news conference when the endorsements were announced, Alicia Priest, president of the Oklahoma Education Association and Torie Shoecraft, President of the Oklahoma City local of the American Federation of Teachers.
“Congresswoman Horn makes it a point to meet with us personally,” said Priest. “And I can tell you, that is very uncommon for the rest of the delegation. She doesn’t send a staff person to meet with us.”
“She really listens to teachers,” Priest said. “She gets it.”
“As a teacher, I am proud to support a candidate who is a true champion of public education and supportive of teachers,” said the AFT-OKC president Shoecraft.
“In 2018, teachers saw firsthand the lack of respect and support from a lot of our lawmakers,” Shoecraft said. “So we knew that we had what we had in Kendra Horn and we knew she can make a difference and we voted to elect her.”
Shoecraft is the president of the largest local in the state due to being the bargaining agent of the largest single traditional school district in the state. (Epic virtual charter schools add together more students from across the state but do not have a unionized workforce yet.)
Thanks from Horn
Congresswoman Horn thanked the organizations for their endorsements and gave teachers ample credit for her win in 2018.
“Educators were a key part of it,” said Horn about her win.
“We stood together at the Capitol. And then educators walked door to door talk to their friends and neighbors, they made phone calls, they spoke up. And they said education is essential. They told us what matters. And we worked on it. That’s how we crossed the finish line successfully in 2018,” said Horn.
Later, Free Press asked Horn what the endorsement meant to her.
“I am incredibly grateful to receive the endorsement of AFT – Oklahoma and Oklahoma City AFT and the OEA. Because, what it shows is that there is one candidate in this race that is truly a friend of public education. And that’s me.”
The Oklahoma Education Association (OEA) has the more moderate history of the two union organizations both nationally and locally seeing itself as more an professional association than a union. But, they do collective bargaining and defend members like a union.
Priest said that they have “about 20,000” members who teach in the 500+ public schools in the state.
But, the OEA does not use union dues for political action. Instead, they have a fund called the OEA Fund for Children and Public Education that teachers choose individually to make contributions into.
Free Press asked what the process was for deciding who the OEA would endorse.
She said the candidates fill out a questionnaire first and then members who live in the candidates’s district interview them. Once the candidate gets a recommendation from that first group they meet with the OEA Pac Council which makes a decision about endorsement. In the case of a federal post like congressperson or senator, the pac council then sends their recommendation to the National Education Association Pac Council which approves or disapproves of the endorsement.
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