The PAC’s board met with both candidates over the weekend. After some discussion, the board voted 10-3 to give their endorsement to Herbert.
Kory Holdaway, Director of Government Relations for the UEA, says the group liked the message both men are putting forward, but their endorsement came down to who they thought would be able to get things done on Utah’s Capitol Hill.
“The board felt Gov. Herbert would be able to provide a stronger advocacy for public education as a governor. He did make a strong argument of being able to go to members of the majority party in the Legislature as a Republican and advocate for education funding.”
The endorsement is a bit surprising given the high priority Democrats are placing on education as a campaign issue this year. Holdaway says Cooke did make some good points, but they felt political reality would get in the way.
“This wasn’t anything about Cooke. He presented himself very well. However, they did feel the influence that he would have with other policy makers would not have been as strong as Herbert.”
Of course, this is good news to Herbert. Two years ago, the UEA issued a double endorsement of both Herbert and Peter Corroon in their 2010 race. Campaign manager Scott Ericson says it’s a big deal that Herbert won the full endorsement this time around.
“They realize Governor Herbert is a friend to education. It’s a big deal that they recognize the Governor views education and the economy as interlinked issues. For education to do well, the economy has to do well.”
Cooke’s campaign is disappointed with the news. Spokesman Rob Miller says if Cooke wins in November, the endorsement won’t be a sore spot.
“We would have liked to have the UEA’s endorsement, sure. But, we are committed to giving educators a voice at the table in our administration.”