Conservative Group Threatens to Primary Wavering Republicans Over Vouchers Vote
By Laura Bonawits, Contributing Writer
After PA Senate Republicans showed they weren’t yet sold on a school vouchers program, the conservative organization Citizens Alliance of Pennsylvania (CAP) today vowed to recruit and fund primary challengers to any Republican who votes against the bill.
According to CAP, Senate Bill 1, would improve education without increasing taxes by providing vouchers to allow low- and middle-income parents to send children to private, parochial and out-of-district public schools.
“CAP will target for defeat in the 2012 primary election any Republican Senator or Representative who bows to Pennsylvania’s entrenched teachers’ union and opposes Senate Bill 1,” the group announced. “CAP will actively recruit and fund candidates to challenge Republican opponents of SB 1. To date, CAP has raised $1 million for this purpose, and this figure grows steadily each day.”
Joe Sterns, CAP’s Executive Director, says CAP won’t reveal its donors. However, lest anyone doubt the heavy campaign money on the issue, the Tribune Review reports that voucher proponents contributed $6.4 million to campaigns in 2010 (including $3.4 million to SB1 sponsor Sen. Anthony Williams).
“The long and short of it is that you have some career politicians who believe that appeasing the labor union bosses is the surest path to re-election, which is their top concern, not the taxpayers or children. So CAP is here to change the paradigm by recruiting and funding primary opposition to these career politicians,” Sterns said.
While CAP points the finger at career politicians kowtowing to unions, the bill is a bit more complicated for Republicans representing rural areas. With few private schools to choose from and a majority of students attending public schools in rural districts, those Republicans are being asked to vote for a bill that would ultimately serve little benefit for their constituents.
CAP says the act wouldn’t change anything for parents satisfied with their children’s current education, but would end “the costly death grip that unionized government schools have on our education system.”
“CAP is optimistic that SB 1 will be enacted into law,” Sterns said. “We recognize that the votes in both chambers are potentially close, closer than they should ultimately be with Republicans having their largest majorities in several decades, coupled with an electorate thirsting for an end to the labor union’s costly grip on our tax dollars, our schools, and our children.”
Keegan Gibson contributed to this report.