Some political observers contend that New Jersey Governor Chris Christie’s re-election is a veritable fait accompli. And maybe they’re right -- especially now that the fiery governor has reportedly locked up the endorsement of one of the most prominent black leaders in the Garden State:
Gov. Chris Christie's strong support of school vouchers today earned him the endorsement of Bishop Reginald Jackson, one of New Jersey's most influential black ministers.
Jackson, the executive director of the New Jersey Black Ministers Council and a Newark community leader, described himself as a Democrat and noted that he endorsed Democratic Gov. Jon Corzine in 2009 when Christie first ran.
But Jackson today said state Democratic lawmakers have disappointed him by refusing to pass the Opportunity Scholarship Act, a bill that would give children in low-performing urban schools a publicly funded scholarship to attend a private school or another public school instead.
State Sen. Barbara Buono (D-Middlesex), the Democratic candidate for governor this year, opposes the bill. Jackson called Buono a "wonderful, warm and genuine person," then launched a scathing critique on her party.
"A quality education is a civil right, and it is sad for me to see my party, which embraced the Civil Rights movement, now in New Jersey blocking low-income and minority children from escaping the slavery of failing schools," Jackson said at a Statehouse news conference, standing next to Christie and a group of black ministers from across the state.
The fact that Christie’s opponent opposes a bill that would give children trapped in substandard schools access to a quality education should surprise no one. Historically, Democrats often raise money -- and win elections -- in large part because they receive tremendous amounts of support from teachers unions; i.e., organizations that perpetuate and maintain a status quo in many failing schools that is patently unacceptable. Choice and opportunity is the key to improving America’s public education system, and continued efforts to hinder progress on that front is causing more than a few Democrats to reconsider their past political allegiances.
Case in point: As Katie noted last month, one of the reasons State Senator Elbert Guillory (R-LA) switched his party affiliation was because he believes, among other things, that “parents must be the decision-makers in regards to their children’s education.” The Republican Party is committed to school choice, opportunity and better outcomes. Meanwhile, he argues, Democrats represent the “party of disappointment” and seek only to expand “the government plantation.” These are strong words, of course, but the black community has a deep-seated interest in reforming our education system.
Perhaps this is why some of their most respected leaders are becoming or supporting Republicans.