The Everett Herald reports that McKenna is not going to attend the WEA endorsement interview. McKenna's campaign manager Randy Pepple told the Herald:
“They wanted to make this into a dog-and-pony show,” said Randy Pepple, McKenna's campaign manager. “This is about having a big spectacle for Congressman Inslee. Now, we just decided to stay and talk to folks committed to reforming our public schools.”
McKenna is meeting with members of Excellent Schools Now in Seattle, Pepple said. The candidate planned to leave early to travel to Federal Way for the WEA interview but now will remain in Seattle.
In the meantime, McKenna also did not fill out the candidate questionnaire from WEA. The reason, Pepple said, is the questions seemed to focus on funding for adults rather than ways of better serving the kids in the classrooms.
Inslee's campaign spokeswoman Jaime Smith pounced on McKenna's decision, issuing the following statement:
At the 11th hour, Rob McKenna is backing out of meeting with teachers representing communities across our state. He knows he can not possibly explain his cynical, political education proposals that are only intended to give the Republican Party the keys to the governor's office but don't do anything to help public school children get the skills they need to obtain a decent job in the future. McKenna has cynically proposed education initiatives that sound great, but that he knows he can't fund - and he won't face the very people who know his political talking points don't meet economic reality. When an Olympia politician is exposed, they tend to go into hiding. That's what Rob McKenna is doing tomorrow.
Here's my earlier story.
The Washington Education Association's political action committee board is interviewing US Rep. Jay Inslee (D-WA, 1) and Washington State Attorney General Rob McKenna---the Democratic and Republican 2012 candidates for governor, respectively---tomorrow. McKenna will go first at 11 am and Inslee will follow him at 1:30 (with live Twitter and Facebook updates).[pullquote]Even though McKenna has made education and education funding the focal point of his campaign, we can't imagine the WEA will endorse him. [/pullquote]
The WEA will announce its endorsement—the earliest they've ever taken a position on a governor's race—at 3:30.
Even though McKenna has made education and education funding the focal point of his campaign, we can't imagine the WEA will endorse him. McKenna is also pushing an Arne Duncan agenda (charter schools and tying teacher evaluations to student test scores), which the WEA has fought against in Olympia. Additionally, the National Education Association, the national teachers' union, is one of Inslee's top 10 all-time donors, having given him $58,000 since he was first elected in 1992. The WEA has never contributed to McKenna.
After McKenna unveiled his Obama-style education reform agenda, we asked Inlsee where he was on the issue, focusing on the most recent "ed reform" action in Olympia, a (failed) bipartisan bill that would have deprioritized seniority when making layoff decisions. (McKenna supported the bill.)
Inslee's spokeswoman told us Inslee was against the bill. So was the WEA. Here's what his campaign told us in July:
Rep. Inslee supports meaningful reforms in our education system that are student-centered and recognize the need for great teachers in appropriately funded schools. This particular bill emerged from the conflict-laden process all sides need to move past if we are to break the logjam and produce results for our kids.
We need a new approach to develop a true 21st Century educational system. Rep. Inslee is talking to and meeting with stakeholders and community members about how to get the best system in place for our students. In the coming months, Rep. Inslee will unveil his path forward on education.