Throughout the week, registered voters within the 164th state legislative district have been overwhelmed with confusion.
On March 1st, PSEA (the Pennsylvania State Educators Association), Pennsylvania’s largest teachers union, announced their endorsement of Billy Smith, the leading Democratic challenger of current State Representative Margo Davidson. Holly Renegar, a representative from PSEA, said, “Billy supports a fair funding formula for Pennsylvania’s public school districts. Basically, Billy Smith supports good, strong, public education for all children in Pennsylvania.” On Representative Davidson, Renegar said,“She’s flip-flopped and she just showed us she couldn’t be trusted.”
Those who are knowledgeable about education policy in Pennsylvania and the political dynamics that are attached to it in this contentious election understand clearly that this was a critical endorsement, one that will likely harm Representative Davidson’s chances of re-election to her seat.
Upper Darby School District, one of the public school districts within her district, is underfunded by $18 million every year due to a lack of a fair funding formula, and over the past three years, over $10 million in UDSD funding has been rescinded to fund charter schools that are not even within the township. Representative Davidson supports charter schools and has even surpassed the extremes of the most conservative wing of the Pennsylvania Democratic legislative caucus, voting in favor of school vouchers.
For the past few weeks, reports have been flooding in to our publication about Representative Davidson’s canvassing activities and comments to members of the public. Though we don’t have a direct quote from her, and likely never will due to her animosity for our reporting on this race, it has been indicated by numerous 164th district registered voters that she has been saying she will have the support of PSEA during the general election.
There are two flaws with this statement: (1) Representative Davidson has no opponent in the general election, so there would be no strategic reason for PSEA to ever make such a promise. (2) James Vaughan, the Assistant Executive Director of Government Relations at PSEA, has sent us the following statement on the matter:
“PSEA enthusiastically supports Billy Smith in the Democratic Primary for the 164th. I cannot imagine any set of circumstances in which PSEA would support Representative Davidson in this, or any future, election.”
Maybe this more direct statement from PSEA will make matters clear for Representative Davidson, so that voters may be told only the most accurate information leading up to the primary election on May 20th.