Sweeney and NJEA make nice ahead of NJ elections
The New Jersey Education Association is out with its endorsements for the upcoming November election.
It was no surprise that they endorsed Phil Murphy for Governor. Murphy has become a staunch ally of the teachers' union, and the union has spent millions of members' dues to promote Murphy and aid his campaigns. They are expected to do the same this Fall.
What was a surprise, however, was their endorsement of Senate President Steve Sweeney. In the last election, the NJEA endorsed a Trump republican and spent $5 million to try and defeat Sweeney. It was punishment for Sweeney's support of pension reforms in 2011 and his failure to deliver them a constitutional amendment that would have required full pension payments every year. At the peak of their feud, Sweeney accused the NJEA of "bribery" and "extortion" for threatening to withhold campaign contributions for fellow democrats.
In the end, Sweeney cruised to a re-election victory, and took swipes at the Union during his victory party, calling their campaign against him "a waste of money." Sweeny told NJTV, "I'm disappointed. Teachers are wonderful people who do great things for our children. But their leadership needs to be re-evaluated."
Now, however, it seems all is forgiven. Sweeney made nice with union leadership and helped pass major healthcare reforms that not only saves the state money, but reduces out-of-pocket costs for teachers. Sweeney and NJEA president Marie Blistan stood side-by-side at a State House news conference last March, and called it "a major victory."
The NJEA's endorsement of Sweeney may not exactly signal an end to their long simmering feud, but rather a détente. Sweeney does not let go of grudges easily, and neither does the NJEA. While they showered Governor Murphy with praise in their endorsement, the NJEA released the endorsement of Sweeney without comment.