David Garcia slammed for politicizing grassroots event organized by teachers

PHOENIX — David Garcia’s gubernatorial campaign was slammed on the radio Wednesday for its role in politicizing a grassroots effort focused on teachers.

Garcia, a Democrat, won an endorsement from the Arizona Education Association, the state’s largest teachers union, this week over his primary opponent, State Senator Steve Farley. However, Garcia’s campaign and the union were criticized for announcing the endorsement at a press conference in the middle an unrelated demonstration that had been spontaneously organized by teachers.

The grassroots event — called “Red For Ed,” meaning “education” — was intended to give educators a platform to discuss public policies affecting their classrooms.

During a call-in appearance afterward on KTAR (92.3 FM), radio hosts Mac & Gaydos told Garcia that they thought “making it political” by injecting his campaign distracted from educators who were trying to share their message.

“Did you feel like you were, you know, you being endorsed by the teachers union trampled on ‘Red For Ed’ Day?” the host asked. “‘Cause I think it did.”

(Click Here To Listen To The Exchange.)

Garcia responded that this was “the very first time I’ve heard this (criticism) all day,” adding that “today is not about my campaign.”

The radio hosts quickly cut in.

“But if it’s not about your campaign, why do it today on ‘Red For Ed’ Day?” they responded. “It is about your campaign, I think.”

Garcia tried to reiterate that the event wasn’t about his campaign but ended up coming full-circle.

“I am proud that the AZEA (Arizona Education Association) has endorsed my campaign,” the candidate concluded.

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Rebecca Rios: Union-led teacher strike “a frightening prospect”

PHOENIX — Democratic state legislators Rebecca Rios and Steve Farley were pressed Wednesday evening about the likelihood of a union-led teachers strike in Arizona and how they would respond if it happened.

Representative Rios, who represents the state’s 27th legislative district in Maricopa County, and Senator Farley, who represents the state’s 9th legislative district in Pima County, offered markedly different answers on Wednesday’s “Arizona Horizon.”

“It’s a frightening prospect,” Rios said on KAET, when asked about her thoughts on the issue. “But I think, if we keep pushing this issue, kicking the can down the road and not paying teachers a livable wage, we’re going to be faced with that.”

(Click Here To Watch The Video.)

The house minority leader cited a recent claim by Joe Thomas, president of the Arizona Education Association, that the union has received an increased number of inquiries about the topic of a strike.

Ted Simons, the host of “Arizona Horizon,” referred to the recent strike in West Virginia — and, apparently sensing Rios’s hesitation to offer her full-throated support for such a demonstration, asked for clarification: “So not necessarily supporting a teachers strike?”

“No,” she said. “I hope it doesn’t come to that.”

Simons posed a similar question to Farley several times.

When asked if a teachers strike would be counter-productive in the current political environment in Arizona, Farley responded that it was “hard to tell.” However, the state senator implied that he might throw his support behind such a demonstration if it were to happen.

(Click Here To Watch The Video.)

“I asked Representative Rios, but I ask you again,” Simons asked, “Would you support a strike?”

“If the teachers are leaning in this direction and we’re not getting any action when it comes to the legislature,” Farley said, “then we should support where the teachers are going.”

The teachers union endorsed Professor David Garcia — Farley’s Democratic opponent in the gubernatorial primary race — earlier that day.

A version of this article appears at The Farley Report.

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Steve Farley loses teachers union endorsement to David Garcia

PHOENIX — In another blow to State Senator Steve Farley’s gubernatorial campaign, Arizona’s largest teachers union on Wednesday endorsed his Democratic primary opponent, David Garcia, for the state’s top office.

The endorsement from the Arizona Education Association occurred during an unrelated outdoor demonstrated called “Red For Ed” — the latter word standing for “education” — which was organized by teachers. The effort urged educators to show up wearing the color red and to advocate for public policies affecting their classrooms.

Garcia and the teachers union scheduled a press conference in the area, with most attendees also dressed in red.

“We believe that we have found someone that will step into the role as governor and turn this state around, who will address the teaching crisis head-on, who has ideas of ways to bring in the resources for teachers to be successful and will reverse the trend and end the status quo of mediocrity in our schools,” said Joe Thomas, president of the Arizona Education Association. “And that person is David Garcia.”

Garcia, wearing a red tie, spoke after Thomas.

“I am not running to be an education governor,” the candidate told the crowd. “When we win, we will elect an educator, a teacher, as governor.”

Garcia and Farley have been locked in a better primary race for the Democratic nomination.

Garcia, a professor at Arizona State University, recently won the endorsement of People for the American Way Action Fund, a liberal political group with ties to a secretive network of top donors to the Democratic Party called the Democracy Alliance. The professor accepted the endorsement on Arizona Statehood Day when he traveled to Washington, D.C.

However, Farley significantly out-fundraised his opponent in the most recent campaign-finance filing period. The state senator raised $513,000 for his gubernatorial run, while Garcia raised less than $300,000 — and reported having already spent more than two-thirds of that amount.

Garcia recently cited a poll characterizing Republican Governor Doug Ducey as politically “vulnerable” during the 2018 midterm elections, but the firm behind the poll was revealed to have long-standing ties to the Democratic Party, raising the question of whether the data was tainted by bias or partisanship.

A version of this article first appeared at The Farley Report.

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