Statement by American Federation of Teachers President on Local Affiliate Endorsements in 2020 Presidential Campaign
WASHINGTON—AFT President Randi Weingarten issued the following statement after the United Teachers Los Angeles House of Representatives voted to endorse Sen. Bernie Sanders for the Democratic nomination for president:
“The AFT fundamentally revamped our presidential endorsement process this cycle, and in our first phase we have seen unprecedented engagement and empowerment of our 1.7 million members across 3,500 locals and 40 state federations. Our members have engaged with campaigns and candidates, asking questions about the issues that matter most to them, during our 10 candidate town halls and numerous other events and actions. This first phase of the process will culminate in a national candidate forum on public education, which we will host with our allies on Dec. 14 in Pittsburgh.
“As part of this AFT Votes endorsement process, we have enabled locals and state federations, if they choose, prior to any national endorsement, to endorse a candidate for the purpose of their state primary or caucus. Last night, UTLA voted to endorse Sen. Bernie Sanders using its own iteration of that process, based on its long history with the senator and his long-standing support for a pro-public school agenda.
“We anticipate that other AFT affiliates may endorse other candidates prior to their states’ primary or caucus. Our recent member polling indicates that Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. Elizabeth Warren have healthy double-digit support, followed by Sanders and several other Democratic candidates.
“Educators, healthcare professionals and public employees across this country are engaging in the 2020 election with unprecedented enthusiasm, and we are thrilled that our members are already so involved in this campaign; when our democracy is at stake, no one can afford to sit on the sidelines. We look forward to continuing our engagement with the campaigns as our national endorsement process plays out, and to uniting around an eventual nominee as we work together to beat Donald Trump next November.”
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The AFT represents 1.7 million pre-K through 12th-grade teachers; paraprofessionals and other school-related personnel; higher education faculty and professional staff; federal, state and local government employees; nurses and healthcare workers; and early childhood educators.