Close Governor Race in Kentucky Will Test Political Power of #RedforEd Teachers Against the Trump Agenda

President Donald Trump, left, shakes hands with Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin during a campaign rally in Lexington, Ky., Monday, Nov. 4, 2019. (AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley)
AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley

Matt Bevin, the incumbent Republican governor of Kentucky, and Democrat Attorney General Andy Beshear square off in Tuesday’s gubernatorial election in the Bluegrass State.

The outcome will be a test of the political power of the #RedforEd teachers movement, which has aggressively pursued a political agenda in Kentucky over the past year, against the popularity of President Trump and the depth of the impeachment inquiry backlash among his supporters.

President Trump held a rally in Lexington with Bevin on Monday to help get out the vote and help the incumbent governor secure another four year term in a race that the most recent polls say is too close to call.

The rally was attended by well over 10,000 Kentuckians, many wearing t-shirts that said “Read the Transcript,” all of whom showed their boisterous support for both the president and Gov. Bevin.

But pushing against that momentum in support of the Trump agenda is another kind of momentum generated by the #RedforEd teachers in the state.

As Breitbart News reported earlier this year:

A well-funded and subversive leftist movement of teachers in the United States threatens to tilt the political balance nationwide in the direction of Democrats across the country as Republicans barely hang on in key states that they need to hold for President Donald Trump to win re-election and for Republicans to have a shot at retaking the House and holding onto their Senate majority.

This teachers union effort, called #RedforEd, has its roots in the very same socialism that President Trump vowed in his 2019 State of the Union address to stop, and it began in its current form in early 2018 in a far-flung corner of the country before spreading nationally. Its stated goals–higher teacher pay and better education conditions–are overshadowed by a more malevolent political agenda: a leftist Democrat uprising designed to flip purple or red states to blue, using the might of a significant part of the education system as its lever.

In February, “the local #RedforEd affiliate in the state, Kentucky 120 United, launched a protest of legislation under consideration at the state legislature that shut down public schools in several counties,” Breitbart News reported.

These wildcat strikes resulted in the shutdown of a significant number of public schools around the state, and subsequent action by the State Department of Labor, as Breitbart News reported in August:

More than 1,000 Kentucky teachers broke the state’s labor laws when they called in sick to participate in #RedforEd promoted protests over their pension funds at the state capitol this spring, Kentucky’s Secretary of Labor said on Friday.
But none of the 1,074 teachers who broke the law will be fired or prosecuted, Secretary of Labor David Dickerson said.

Instead, they were given a one-time warning, with the promise of future consequences should they break the labor law again.

Bitterness against Bevin on the part of the state’s teachers could play a big role in the outcome, one local professor says.

“Who is going to win depends heavily on, heavily on how angry the teachers remain,” Dr. Tom Matijasic, Professor of History at Big Sandy Community and Technical College told WHCS TV in Prestonburg, Kentucky:

“There’s some things going on Facebook which many teachers say I don’t like Matt Bevin but they are pro-life. People have multiple identities. In some cases the religious beliefs of people are trumping their anger at Matt Bevin,” said Dr. Matijasic.

He says the pension issue will be the key to victory for the Beshear campaign.

“If he wins it’s because a lot of teachers who are fearful about what is going to be done to their pensions are going to show up and vote,” said Dr. Matijasic.

Whatever the outcome of Tuesday’s gubernatorial election in Kentucky, both sides are likely to look at it as a model of political combat for 2020.

 

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