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AFT's Political Blitz to the Midterm-Election Finish Line

In a scramble to the Nov. 4 finish line, the American Federation of Teachers is piling on the political ads in key cities and states, and AFT President Randi Weingarten is hopscotching across the country to stump for various candidates in tight races.

The blitz began last week, with several ads paid for by AFT's Solidarity Fund, one of its political financing arms. It will continue through Tuesday, when Weingarten is slated to be on hand in Philadelphia, where Democratic gubernatorial challenger Tom Wolfe is expected to trounce Republican incumbent Gov. Tom Corbett.

On Oct. 27, meanwhile, AFT's Michigan affiliate launched a six-figure digital ad buy, including a web site and online video, backing Democratic challenger Mark Schauer for governor. The ads attack Republican Gov. Rick Snyder for what they say amounts to $1 billion in cuts to public education since he was first elected in 2010 and also for steering state money to charter and for-profit schools with little accountability.

"Gov. Snyder has spent the last four years taking money out of Michigan's classrooms and hurting Michigan's working families," said AFT Michigan president David Hecker. "Our communities deserve a governor like Mark Schauer ... a governor who is committed to making sure all kids have a chance to succeed and all schools are places where teachers want to teach and kids love to learn."

Then, on Oct. 29, AFT's Michigan affiliate launched a radio ad buy aimed at getting out the vote for Schauer in Detroit. The narrative of the ad focuses on the ramifications of Michigan's voter ID law, which Snyder pushed through in 2011 and which requires voters to show proof of citizenship in order to vote.

"Gov. Snyder and the Republicans are trying to make it harder for us to vote because they're afraid if we vote, they lose and our community wins," the voice on the ad says. "They're afraid that our voices will be heard ... and that our votes will make a difference."

Weingarten explained in a statement that Detroit, specifically, has been hardest hit by Gov. Snyder's policies. "He made it harder for people of color and other marginalized communities to vote," she said. "He tried to balance the city budget on the backs on public service workers and their pensions."

Weingarten also traveled to Michigan a few weeks ago to knock on doors in Dearborn and talk to families about their children's education.

The latest poll from Public Policy Polling, shows Snyder up one point on Schaurer.

Meanwhile, AFT's New Hampshire affiliate launched a separate six-figure TV ad buy Oct 29, which dings Senate Republican challenger Scott Brown for outsourcing jobs and being in the pocket of Big Oil.

"I spent a day last weekend talking with New Hampshire voters about Jeanne Shaheen," Weingarten said in a statement. "These voters want a U.S. senator who will fight for them and their livelihoods, not for wealthy corporations. Brown wasn't that senator when he was a senator in Massachusetts."

The latest dueling polls one from WMUR/University of New Hampshire show Shaheen up one point while another from New England College shows Brown up one point.  

Two days later, on Oct. 31, Weingarten appeared in Chicago alongside Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn and U.S. Rep. Danny Davis, D-Ill., where she underscored the importance of the midterm elections in preserving public education. The next day, she drove to Moline, Ill., to further stump for Quinn, as well as joined by Democrats Sen. Dick Durbin and Rep. Cheri Bustos, both of who were on site along with First Lady Michelle Obama.

On Sunday, Weingarten participated in a laundry list of events in Florida alongside Revs. Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson, Reps. Frederica Wilson and John Conyers, National Education Association President Lily Eskelsen Garcia, and others.

The events drummed up support for gubernatorial Democratic challenger Charlie Crist and for the re-election of Reps. Wilson and Joe Garcia.

The latest poll from Quinnipiac shows Crist up one point against Republican incumbent Gov. Rick Scott.

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