Thankfully for students, parents, and teachers across the state, Democrat State Senator Rosemary McAuliffe (1st LD), in office since 1993, announced she will not seek reelection in 2016. During her time in office, McAuliffe has often billed herself as a crusader for education.
The longtime chair of the Democrat Senate’s education committee (until the Majority Coalition Caucus removed her from that spot in 2013), McAuliffe was a major player in the traditional underfunding of public education for a generation. That led to the state Supreme Court declaring that the state was not funding our public schools to the degree required by the state constitution via the McCleary decision in 2012.
McAuliffe exposed her true stripes when, during the 2014 legislative session, she voted against a bill she had sponsored – and was still extolling the virtues of on her Senate web site after she voted against it – in order to curry favor with the Washington Education Association (WEA).
Her decision led to the loss of $40 million dollars in federal education aid for poor and at-risk student programs, all to ensure that she did not cross her campaign benefactors at the teachers union. After all, McAuliffe had more than $50,000 in debt left over from her 2012 campaign that she needed to retire.
Perhaps Senate Democrats will now pick an education leader that actually cares about students. Of course, considering how they depend on the WEA for campaign cash, it’s not likely.
According to liberal blog Publicola, the race for McAuliffe’s seat on the Democrat side will be between state Representative Louis Moscoso and Democrat Guy Palumbo. And, it’s expected to be contentious with special interest dollars, specifically from the WEA, favoring Moscoso over “education reformer” Palumbo. At least, that’s what happened when Palumbo challenged McAuliffe in 2012.
The good news is that a contentious race among Democrats may be what Republicans need to gain traction in the Democrat leaning district.