NJEA President Marie Blistan responded today to the letter addressed to her today, signed by 16 Democratic senators, criticizing NJEA members’ endorsement of Fran Grenier in LD3:
“The letter addressed to me today from 16 Democratic state senators reveals a profound misunderstanding of NJEA, its members, and our commitment to achieving change and progress in New Jersey as a non-partisan, pro-education advocacy organization.
“First, and most importantly, NJEA is not an arm of the Democratic Party. Our members endorse many Democrats, because those candidates’ positions align with their values and priorities. We are especially proud of our endorsement of Democratic gubernatorial candidate Phil Murphy, whose steadfast support of educators and public education has energized our members to work tirelessly for his election in November. Because of his honestly, reliability and firm support of public education, Phil Murphy will have no better allies as Governor than the 200,000 members of NJEA.
“But all of the endorsements our members make are based on policy, not party. NJEA has never hesitated to endorse and support Republican candidates whose positions and records have earned them our members’ endorsement.
“If Democrats are disappointed that our members did not endorse Steve Sweeney this year, they need to take another look at Sweeney’s record of broken promises and policy failures. It was not hard for our members to see his failures. If the colleagues who signed the letter are honest with themselves, they have to admit they understand how Sweeney’s own actions led to this point.
“Furthermore, if the signers of the letter believe that their party’s strategy of pouring millions of dollars into that one race is hurting their opportunity to pick up legislative seats around the state, they should demand that in the future their party not pick such flawed candidates as Sweeney and then continue to prop him up at the expense of the party. They should demand immediately that their party pursue a smarter strategy that is more likely to expand its base and increase its power in this election.
“It is not NJEA’s responsibility to protect the career of a politician whose serial dishonesty, frequent betrayals and long history of partnership with Gov. Christie on anti-worker, harmful legislation has revealed him to be unworthy of our members’ support. Our responsibility is to support the candidate who participated in our screening process and earned our members’ endorsement.
“We will continue to work hard to elect Fran Grenier in LD3 because residents of that district, along with everyone else in New Jersey, deserves better than Steve Sweeney in the New Jersey State Senate.”