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Spiller's campaign for governor means union funds now, teacher demands later, analyst says


The list of Democrats seeking to succeed Governor Murphy is getting longer — it now includes Sean Spiller, the president of New Jersey’s teachers union.

His campaign is primarily funded by the union. Micah Rasmussen of the Rebovich Institute for New Jersey Politics said if Spiller wins teachers’ concerns will move to the head of the line.

“The teachers union always has a very robust agenda that has to do with what’s taught, with what’s funded, with how it’s funded,” said Rasmussen, “and again, we’re talking about competing priorities in Trenton, and competing priorities in the state budget, and so every time you make it a priority to fund something that means that something else doesn’t get prioritized,” he said.

Recent reports say the union has poured about $8 million into Spiller’s campaign. Rasmussen said a campaign mostly funded by a single donor usually raises questions.

“I think when you are primarily funded by one donor or set of donors or your money is coming from one place people will know that, people will understand that, and people may have questions about that, what does that mean? What do the teachers expect in return for that,” said Rasmussen.

“Let’s face it, if he were to become Governor Spiller, I think the teachers union would credibly say, ‘We made this happen for you,’ so I think there is going to be a question that he’ll have to answer from voters as to what that means,” he said.

Newark Mayor Ras Baraka and Jersey City Mayor Steve Fulop are also running, as is former state senator Steve Sweeney.

Janice Kirkel is a lifelong award-winning journalist who has done everything from network newscasts to national and local sports reports to business newscasts to specialized reporting and editing in technical areas of business and finance such as bankruptcy, capital structure changes and reporting on the business of the investment business.