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Tipsheet

PA Gubernatorial Candidate is Anti-CRT, But Has Hire Lobbyists Who Previously Worked for Teachers Union

AP Photo/Mary Altaffer, File

Update:

After publication, Dave White's campaign manager, Bob Salera, reached out to explain that Long, Nyquist and Associates dropped the Pennsylvania State Education Association (PSEA) as a client, at White's request. That was effective as of January 1, 2022. It is also no longer listed on the Long, Nyquist and Associates client page. Salera also reiterated White's commitment to school choice. White entered the race in November. 

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Original Post:

Critical Race Theory (CRT) proved to be a major issue in the Virginia statewide races last year. This may turn out to be a pattern for the rest of the country, including Pennsylvania. Dave White, a former Delaware County Councilman, appears to hope to be following that lead in his run for governor in this key battleground state. 

As it turns out, though, he's also hired Long Nyquist and Associates, which has been on the side of teachers unions, particularly the Pennsylvania State Education Association (PSEA). In a piece from January 24, 2022, City & State Pennsylvania included Mike Long and Todd Nyquist in their list of "The 2022 Top 50 Political Consultants in Pennsylvania." White's gubernatorial campaign is listed under "Key Clients." Under "Biggest Accomplishment," it reads in part that "Dave White retained us to run his gubernatorial race."

The pinned tweet from Dave White for Governor's Twitter account is a television ad from last December which invites people to support him "if you want to put parents back in charge of our children's education."

More recently, White has tweeted opposition for CRT.

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The relationship that Long and Nyquist has had to teachers unions goes back several years. In a guest article submission to PATownhall.com from August 19, 2014, Nick Pandelidis makes reference to such a connection.

"Demonstrating the political reality of profit over principle, the former Republican staffers of Long Nyquist lobbied on behalf of PSEA to derail pension reform, parental school choice, and paycheck protection; and on behalf of the UFCW to sink liquor privatization," Pandelidis wrote.

An August 6, 2014 post from the Citizens Alliance of Pennsylvania (CAP) also references such a relationship.

"Despite being a firm run by Republicans, the client roster includes a who’s who of organized labor. Long & Nyquist lobbied for the UFCW to derail liquor store privatization and has the largest teachers’ union in the state as a client," it read.

That year, and in 2016, questions were raised, especially from then-State Sen. Scott Wagner, a Republican who ran against Gov. Tom Wolf in 2018, about the influence of Long Nyquist. 

PSEA goes pretty heavy on the CRT type of language, particularly in a "Diversity, Inclusion, Equity Statement" from last Spring.

As one part reads:

Advocate for Transformational Change in our schools: PSEA is committed to an organizational culture that understands the historic roots of structural racism and its legacy of injustice. We commit to actively and continuously educating our members on the necessity of full inclusion and honest reflection on those efforts. While training and professional learning is essential, ultimately, we seek to recruit BIPOC educators and staff which starts with our own students and college students. Recruitment works hand in hand with creating an environment in which people, of diverse backgrounds, are accepted and respected. We want more educators that look like our BIPOC students. We want our students to see themselves better reflected in their school staff.

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Last December, PSEA recommended Democratic candidate Josh Shapiro for governor in the party's primary.

A December 21 release mentioned that "[PSEA President Rich] Askey noted that a candidate recommendation is only being made in the Democratic primary at this time because the field of candidates in the Republican primary is so much larger, requiring additional time."

PSEA is also referenced in a report from last July by WGAL8:

Some parents and Republican lawmakers in Pennsylvania are arguing that critical race theory should not be taught in schools and that it will divide students. Others are saying that censoring teachers from talking about race and racism takes away from the learning experience.

Lois Kaneshiki, of No Left Turn in Education, has strong objections to teaching CRT in Pennsylvania classrooms.

"Little children are being taught that just because they're white that they're a part of this oppressor class and they themselves carry this burden," she said.

Chris Lilienthal, the assistant director of communications for the PSEA, which is the state's teachers union, disagrees.

"Our teachers are teaching students the facts. They're teaching them about history, about literature as it happened so they can understand where they came from, where our country has come from, how we've evolved and where we can go from here," he said.

PSEA talking points from last September instruct teachers to keep wearing masks. One bullet point claims that "This isn’t about politics; it’s about people’s health." Another claims "We know what happens when students and staff don’t wear masks in school. We see schools closing and people getting sick every day."

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While White has spoken out against CRT, he seems to have kept quiet on teachers unions. Many of his primary opponents, however, have spoken against the unions. 

Former United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania Bill McSwain tweeted out a Parents' Bill of Rights last December, also mentioning he would not take money from the unions.

And, McSwain also wrote an op-ed last October for Broad+Liberty, "Power of education belongs to families, not teachers’ unions."

County Commissioner Joe Gale has tweeted about not being "a puppet of the teachers unions."

Former Rep. Lou Barletta, who has a Contract for Pennsylvania Parents, also issued warnings about the unions.

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In Utah, meanwhile, Gov. Spencer Cox, a Republican who took campaign donations from teachers unions and earned an endorsement, said he will veto legislation that funds students instead of the system. 

The Pennsylvania gubernatorial primary will take place on May 17. Gov. Wolf is not eligible to run again due to term limits. There is also a closely-watched senatorial race going on to replace outgoing Sen. Pat Toomey, a Republican. 

A request for comment sent to the Dave White for Governor contact form was not immediately returned.

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