-By Warner Todd Huston
State Senator Kirk Dillard said he was thrilled to receive the Illinois Education Association's endorsement for the GOP nomination for Governor today. He was so happy to get the endorsement he actually attended the announcement and gave a statement after the IEA's president gave her endorsement.
According to IEA president Cinda Klickna Dillard has shown that he values the expertise and opinions of the IEA.
"Sen. Dillard supports our fight for adequate funding for public education and he stood up to tremendous pressure and voted against the unfair and unconstitutional pension bill, Senate Bill 1," Klickna said during this morning's press conference.
"Illinois needs a fighter who believes in public schools and that is why IEA is proud to recommend Senator Kirk Dillard for the Republican nomination for governor," she added.
The IEA is the largest education union in the state with some 130,000 members.
Dillard focused his comments on "the teachers" and education in general, but steered clear of talking about the union itself or the political abuses perpetrated public employees unions in general.
The director of the Illinois chapter of Americans For Prosperity, however, was not too shy to slam the unions.
AFP's David From criticized Dillard for taking the endorsement.
"The IEA is leading the charge for the Progressive Income Tax hike, a policy Sen. Dillard claims to oppose," From said in a statement. "The IEA is also openly opposed to school choice and home schooling, while supporting the taxing of retirement income to fund public employees own pension funds. This organization is hostile to policies that promote greater economic freedom by letting taxpayers keep more of their money, while also working against more parental choice in their children's education."
The IEA Legislative Platform for 2013-14 declares that "education should be supported by a progressive tax" (484). It also states that it "supports state taxation of retirement (income)" (437). On issues of parental choice in education the Platform says it "opposes home schooling" (900) and opposes "all voucher plans" (489).
In addition, it was recently revealed that the IEA has contributed $500,000 to join with the Democratic Governors Association and other large public sector unions to fund attack ads aimed at altering the Republican primary.
"These positions advocated by the IEA and their partnership with the Democratic Governors Association's attack ads in the Republican primary are troubling to many of the voters Sen. Dillard has been courting throughout this election," continued From. "He should reassure Republican primary voters of his commitment to lower taxes and educational freedom by releasing his IEA Candidate Questionnaire and showing that special interest endorsements and money will not change his stand against higher taxes and for educational choice and home schoolers."
GOP candidate Bruce Rauner also issued a statement about the endorsement.
"It’s no surprise," Rauner said, "that a twenty-year Springfield insider like Kirk Dillard would seek and receive the endorsement of a government union that typically backs Democrats and opposes pro-student reforms while supporting a massive tax hike. This endorsement is a clear reminder to Republican primary voters that Kirk Dillard is part of the problem and will not fundamentally shake up Springfield."
Dillard will not get any points from his voters for gaining this endorsement, for sure. He may appeal to some moderates, of course, but in a GOP primary that isn't the voter block one needs.