As the chances of Vincent Prieto being toppled as Assembly Speaker by Craig Coughlin start to look real, various minority and liberal groups are now demanding that Prieto be kept as Speaker because Prieto is Latino.
|Why is No One Saying that Vincent Prieto|
Never mind that Prieto is looks totally white to me, and he is an admitted male, the following minority groups are denouncing any attempt to remove him as Speaker.
A coalition of liberal groups spoke out in support of Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto on Tuesday, arguing that Democrats need more diverse leaders in New Jersey and that ousting Prieto from the speakership would remove the only minority official with real clout in Trenton.
Prieto (D-Hudson), who hails from Cuba, has announced he’s seeking a third term as speaker after the November elections. But a challenger, Assemblyman Craig Coughlin (D-Middlesex), has the edge right now and appears on track to defeat Prieto if Democrats perform as expected in races for all 80 Assembly seats this fall.
Coughlin is of Irish heritage, as is Senate President Steve Sweeney (D-Gloucester), who has the votes for another term as the leader of the upper house. And the front-runner for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination is Phil Murphy, a former U.S. ambassador who also comes from Irish stock.
“The time of counting on the support of diverse communities in order to win an election but completely ignore it when it matters is over in New Jersey,” said Chris Estevez, president of the Latino Action Network. “Our demand is simple, take us into account or lose our support when it counts.”
“We reject a system that produces homogenous leadership and targets the one diverse member in a leadership body created to represent the voices and interests of diverse constituents,” said William Colon, head of the Latino Institute...
“Our state is in crisis and those at the helm are sadly unfocused, unperturbed and seemingly unconcerned,” said Richard Smith, president of the New Jersey NAACP. “We stand united in the demand that our leaders not only represent our interests, they represent the broad diversity of our state in both makeup and progressive values.”
Analilia Mejia, director of the New Jersey Working Families Alliance, said “the rest of the state has looked in horror at the push to roll back health care coverage” in Washington while in New Jersey “mostly white and mostly male ‘leaders’ have been busy dividing up Senate and Assembly leadership in order to oust the one person of color in one of the most diverse states in the nation.”
Prieto said he was heartened by the support and added that the state’s leadership “should reflect the multitude of people who make New Jersey such a vibrant and exciting place.”
What's really going on here is that these groups speaking up for Prieto are all NJEA funded and the NJEA is pulling in some favors, since the NJEA wants Prieto to stay in power due to Prieto's opposition to redistributing state aid.
For 2014, the most recent year available, the NJEA gave the Latino Institute $200,000, the NAACP $10,750, and Working Families United $10,000.
What's most troubling is that the Latino Institutute is opposing the interests of most New Jersey Latinos, since most of New Jersey's most underaided districts are heavily Latino. An injustice to non-Abbotts even Bruce Baker recognizes.
While the teacher unions have a great deal of power through their lobbying, political donations, advertising campaigns, and superPACs, it's underappreciated how much power they have through their largesse towards liberal and minority "activist" groups and think-tanks.
The NAACP, Latino Institute, and Working Families United purport to speak for hundreds of thousands of people and thus have prominent voices. In getting them to line up behind a state aid status quo Assembly Speaker, the NJEA is exercising a power that few realize it even has.
See Education Next's "The Long Reach of the Teachers Unions."