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UPDATED: Kentucky Teachers' Union Resoundingly Endorses Beshear For Governor

Andy Beshear by J. Tyler Franklin, Louisville Public Media-125100
Photo by J. Tyler Franklin
Andy Beshear on May 3, 2019.

The political action committee for the Kentucky Education Association, the state's teachers' union and largest educator member organization, has unanimously endorsed Democrat Andy Beshear for governor.

All 24 members of the committee voted for Beshear over Republican Governor Matt Bevin.

"Bevin has proven he is a failed governor who has been unable to even work with representatives from his own party," KEA president Eddie Campbell said in a press release. "Kentucky can’t afford another four years of his incompetence."

In an interview with WFPL, Campbell was more restrained. He cited Bevin's past budgets and his negative comments toward teachers as justification for the endorsement.

"If you picked up a paper, you’ve probably seen some kind of comment that’s been made about or toward educators in the state. So I think those are a few reasons that have led the committee to overwhelmingly endorse General Beshear," Campbell said.

Bevin has accused teachers of neglecting students and causing a child to be shot while educators demonstrated at the capitol.

Bevin's campaign manager Davis Paine responded to KEA's endorsement with these comments:

"The KEA supported [former Kentucky governor] Steve Beshear, who underfunded teacher pensions by billions, so it's no surprise they are also supporting Andy Beshear. By backing another Beshear, the KEA is staking the solvency of every Kentucky teacher's retirement on gambling and marijuana," Paine said in an email, referring to Andy Beshear's policy positions on raising state tax revenue.

"Gov. Bevin is the only Governor to fully fund teacher pensions, and he has supported record high per-pupil spending for Kentucky's students," Paine said.

Per-student SEEK spending in raw dollars has hit a record high under Bevin's governorship, although critics like the left-leaning Kentucky Center for Economic Policy argue that does not account for inflation.

"I know the governor has fully funded the pension, and we give him credit for that and we thank him for that," Campbell said, but that "on the other side of the coin," Bevin has also proposed cutting benefits for future teachers.

In its announcement, KEA praised Beshear for using his position as Kentucky's Attorney General to block Bevin's "anti-public education policies" in court, noting Beshear's state Supreme Court win to reject the "sewer bill" that would have put future teachers on a hybrid cash-balance plan as opposed to a traditional pension.

“Andy Beshear has proven that he has the best interests of students and educators in Kentucky in mind as Attorney General," Campbell said. "We are confident that he will continue to champion public education as our next governor.”

Campbell said the association will encourage its more than 44,000 members and their families to support Beshear in the November election.

Beshear's running mate, Jacqueline Coleman — an assistant principal — is a member of KEA; the association noted that in its endorsement. On the campaign trail, Beshear has said he invited Coleman to run alongside him for lieutenant governor to demonstrate his commitment to public education and to draw on her expertise as an educator.

KEA endorsed these candidates in other statewide races:

  • Heather French Henry (D) for Secretary of State
  • Greg Stumbo (D) for Attorney General
  • Michael Bowman (D) for State Treasurer
  • Sheri Donahue for (D) Auditor of Public Accounts
  • Ryan Quarles (R) for Commissioner of Agriculture
Liz Schlemmer is WFPL's Education and Learning Reporter.