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NH NEA to endorse Clinton, Huckabee

From NBC/NJ's Tricia Miller

The 16,000-member New Hampshire affiliate of the National Education Association has chosen to recommend to its members Hillary Clinton in the Democratic primary and Mike Huckabee in the Republican primary, according to a source within the state NEA.This is the first time the state affiliate has picked a candidate in the GOP primary, and it follows Huckabee's showing as the only Republican who spoke to the NEA convention in July.

The state chapter's membership is more than 25% Republican, said the source, and the committee didn't want those members to be ignored. When Huckabee spoke at the convention and participated in an interview with the state affiliate, deciding members felt it would be right to point that out to members. Only education and related positions were considered, and the board appreciated Huckabee's "strong views on public education," especially supporting the arts and music. The board might have felt differently if it had considered the former Arkansas governor's opinions on "social values issues" and "war issues," the source said.

The state chapter's process began with its government relations committee (made up of 15 retired and active members appointed by the state president) and interviews with the candidates, according to Rick Trombley, director of public affairs for the state affiliate. Last Wednesday, committee members had the choice of not recommending any candidates, recommending one candidate or recommending multiple candidates to the executive board. At that time, it chose Clinton and Huckabee.

The board met Friday with the option of ratifying or not ratifying the committee's recommendation. It could not consider any recommendations other than the one given by the government relations committee. The chapter plans to announce its decision to members as early as this week and has asked the two candidates to be present.

Reg Weaver, president of the national NEA, said he met with all of the Democratic candidates and one Republican -- Huckabee -- in September, and would, in accordance with the NEA's process, make his recommendation to the national organization's PAC Council in the next couple weeks. The council will accept or reject his recommendation. He said he understands that some state affiliates, like New Mexico and North Carolina, have already endorsed their favorite sons, but he hopes other affiliates will wait to "concur or not concur" with his recommendation.

Scott McGilvray, president of the Manchester Education Association, endorsed Edwards Monday at a roundtable with about 20 teachers. The MEA is the largest of about 200 affililates of the New Hampshire state chapter of the National Education Association, according to the chapter's communications coordinator Carol Backus.
 
"He's put, in my belief, the most comprehensive education policy on the table of any of the candidates. He is a product -- his wife and family -- of public schools," McGilvray said in his introduction. "[He] was a big proponent, or is a big proponent, of unionized labor and lent his support to the Manchester Education Association in our contract fight earlier in the year and went out and reached out to the mayor and board of aldermen through a letter and conversation and assisted us greatly in that."