Two articles of faith about teachers’ unions are being put to the test in Alabama’s primaries tomorrow. The first is that Alabama is one of those “weak union” states. The other is that teachers’ unions give all their political money to Democrats.
The Alabama Education Association (AEA) is attempting to put both of those beliefs to rest simultaneously as it makes an unprecedented effort to dismantle the Republican supermajority in the state legislature. Its unique method of accomplishing this is to throw huge amounts of money at Republicans.
Our story begins with National Research Services, a previously unknown firm with a Tennessee post office box that incorporated in Delaware on a Friday and received hundreds of thousands of dollars of AEA PAC money the next Monday.
National Research Services then provided campaign advertising to a slew of friendly Republican incumbents and the primary challengers to the unfriendly Republican incumbents. On May 9, the union’s PAC had already spent more than $2.1 million on the primaries, far exceeding any other group.
AEA is so set on ousting the sitting GOP legislators, it is spending money on mailers accusing the incumbent Republicans of voting to “bring Obamacare to Alabama.”
The weekly campaign disclosure reports continue to show almost all of AEA’s PAC contributions going to Republican candidates.
State representative Todd Greeson is a Republican running for an open senate seat. He has received $200,000 from AEA, but sought to highlight his independence.
“Outside of probably the NRA, that’s probably the only group I’ve voted 100 percent with,” he said. “And pro-life – I’m about 100 percent (voting) on pro-life. That’s about it. That’s the only areas I’ve voted with a special interest group. But the NRA doesn’t really contribute money in a legislative race.”
AEA is either getting very broadminded in supporting gun-toting, abortion-hating, Obamacare-damning Republicans for office, or it is engaging in the worst kind of cynical political power play – the kind of thing teachers’ unions always claim to be above.
But there’s plenty of cynicism to go around. The Republicans and pundits who have complained for years about the percentages of teacher union money going to Democrats can now see what the reverse looks like. Do they feel better or worse?