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Earlier this month I wrote my first diary here at Kos proudly announcing that My Dad is running for School Board!  Well, I'm here to report that the campaign is facing a formidable challenge from the Republican Party apparatus.

Being a member of the School Board is a non-partisan elected position and my father has been attending Democratic, Republican and nonpartisan events throughout his campaign to drum up support.  

This week it was reported in the St. Petersburg Times that the Republican party is donating $50,000 to three school board candidates with Republican leanings including $10,000 to Carl Neumann who is running against my father and just entered the campaign two weeks ago.

In 1998, Floridians approved a Constitutional Amendment to make school board elections non-partisan.

Article IX - Education - Section 4

In each school district there shall be a school board composed of five or more members chosen by vote of the electors in a nonpartisan election for appropriately staggered terms of four years, as provided by law.

The spirit of the law was for matters concerning education to transcend partisan politics.

Not according to Republican Party chairman Tony DiMatteo:

In an interview, party chairman Tony DiMatteo said "taking back the School Board" was one of his goals when he was elected to lead the Pinellas GOP in December 2004.

Now, while the races themselves are non-partisan, candidates are certainly allowed to refer to their membership or activity within a political organization and the law does not prohibit polictical parties from donating to a campaign, but as a St. Peterburg Times Editorial points out:

If political parties can dump $50,000 into low-budget races in which all other contributions are limited to $500, then the parties will hijack nonpartisan school elections. That's not what voters intended, and lawmakers shouldn't allow it.

[snip]

Pinellas is a school district that faces a glaring racial achievement gap, a ponderous student choice assignment plan and declining state aid, and it doesn't need politicos trying to dictate the solutions.

My father announced on his campaign site today:

Elections for School Board members and  judges are intended to be Nonpartisan.  Legally all that means is that there are no separate Primary elections in which voters get to chose a Democrat and a Republican to face each other in a General election. My campaign has always been Nonpartisan and Bi-partisan, It will continue to be so.  All of my actions as a School Board member will be Nonpartisan and in the best interest of first students, then parents, and lastly tax payers and no one else.

I added the emphasis to that last part. My father wants to put the interests of the students first. He has pledged to do so in a way that isn't beholden to partisan interests.

His opponent is Carl Neumann.

Neumann was an insurance agent for 20 years before becoming a real estate agent. He earned an associate's degree in hotel and food service from Penn State University. He taught continuing education at St. Petersburg College and served on the board of directors for Heritage private schools, a homeschool group.

He now has $10,000 from the Republican Party plus thousands more to take advantage of the party's direct mail apparatus.  This is not people-powered politics.

I'm hoping that the netroots can help even the playing field.  My father is playing by the rules and will keep his pledge to be non-partisan/bi-partisan. I, his daughter, am a proud liberal who wants her Dad to have a fighting chance. I thought in a school board election he would be able to win or lose on the merits of his campaign. However, it seems the political money machine is just as powerful in a local election as it is at the state and national level.

So, I'm asking my fellow Kossacks to please donate to my Dad's campaign - even if you can only spare $5 every little bit will help.

Thanks for your time.

Originally posted to meowmissy on Fri Jul 21, 2006 at 04:27 PM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  tips/suggestions (14+ / 0-)

    I'm not sure how to help my Dad out, since I don't live in Pinellas county anymore, so I ranted here. There's only six weeks left in the campaign. Fingers crossed.

  •  Good luck to your dad (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    wader, godislove

    I don't have any suggestions, but this isn't a new tactic by the GOP.  They've been doing stuff like this for decades.  It's a shame that they would rather twist and contort the educational system into their image instead of promoting education of their children.  

    My friend lives in a district where the 9 members of the board are all Republicans who have received money from their local GOP.  They all vote the same way and whenever one of them terms out, there's another to take his/her place and that person usually goes on to another political position.  She's had nothing but trouble trying to get them to look at any curricula outside of the GOP approved one they use.  She's moved her kids to a private school, after reading the next history textbooks they were going to be using a few years ago.  

    "If it ain't blog, it's blah." - My husband ~ July 19, 2006

    by fabooj on Fri Jul 21, 2006 at 05:25:13 PM PDT

    •  Decades is right... (0+ / 0-)

      With Bush II issuing his first veto this week, I was remembering when Congress first overturned a Regan veto.  It was in the sixth year of his term I believe.

      I was at college in DC and my school had a debate that night between some foregetable liberal and Cal Thomas.

      I got to speak to Cal afterwards and I asked him why it was that Congress had gotten to a point where it finally overturned a Regan veto.

      The first line out of his mouth: "Well, it started in the public schools..."

      I cross my heart and hope to die in front of sweet jesus, I kid you not, that was the first line out of his mouth.

      meowmissy -- good work supporting your dad!

  •  That's a huge amount of money... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    godislove

    for a local race like this.  But that's what the right has been doing for years, determinedly running and winning office in these small elections when no one was paying much attention.  I applaud your dad for running...the 50 state strategy is great, but to really make it work, we have to have a 3100 county and a 10,000 town strategy.

    I hope some finer strategists than I can offer him some good advice to counter the big bucks.

  •  taking over the school board is (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    godislove

    ...an acknowledged tactic of the Dominionists.

    written about here.  Look for the subheading, A Whole Generation of Gary Norths.

    Among the top Reconstructionists in education politics is Robert Thoburn of Fairfax Christian School in Fairfax, Virginia. Thoburn advocates that Christians run for school board, while keeping their own children out of public schools. "Your goal" (once on the board), he declares, "must be to sink the ship." While not every conservative Christian who runs for school board shares this goal, those who do will, as Thoburn advises, probably keep it to themselves. Thoburn's book, The Children Trap, is a widely used sourcebook for Christian Right attacks on public education.

    Our very own dkos guy, Frederick Clarkson, penned this article.

    •  Oh my holy God in Heaven (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      rearlgrant

      Help us and Save us.  And forgive the Republicans, PLEASE save their corrupt and soulless hearts of stone.

      Those things that hurt, instruct-Benjamin Franklin

      by godislove on Sat Jul 22, 2006 at 07:25:30 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

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