Hundreds of Educational Choice Leaders Elected to State Legislatures Across the Country

Voters nationwide stand strongly on the side of legislators who support educational options

WASHINGTON, D.C. (November 8, 2012)—Supporters of educational choice were victorious in hundreds of races across the country on Tuesday night, as voters in a diverse set of states cast ballots in large majorities in favor of pro-educational choice candidates, as well as to expand the number of quality options available in their states.

The American Federation for Children—the nation’s voice for educational choice—praised all of the candidates who will work in upcoming legislative sessions on behalf of children, including a bipartisan slate of Federation-endorsed candidates who won elections on Tuesday. The Federation also applauded voters in Georgia, who approved a constitutional amendment that will restore a key charter school commission.

In addition to the passage of Amendment 1, which will result in a vast expansion of the number of charter schools able to operate in the state, the Federation praised the 32 endorsed candidates in Georgia who were ultimately victorious in their races, including Michael Smith (D), who won an open House seat in Cobb County replacing an opponent of educational choice. Smith’s victory represents the growing support for school choice among legislators and citizens all across Georgia—and it was indicative of similar wins across the nation.

“This year legislators have given thousands more children an opportunity to succeed in the school of their parents’ choice, and these electoral gains give even more hope to families across America,” said Kevin P. Chavous, senior advisor to the American Federation for Children. “We’re hopeful that these victories will translate into more educational options for the families that need them most.”

The Federation and its affiliated political organizations endorsed 15 legislative candidates in Arizona, including four state senate candidates. It conducted independent expenditures on behalf of each endorsed candidate in either the primary or the general election. All of the 10 general election candidates endorsed by the Federation were victorious last night, including Rep. Kimberly Yee (R) and Rep. Barbara McGuire (D), both of whom won state senate seats.

The Florida Federation for Children, a state electioneering organization affiliated with the American Federation for Children, conducted electioneering communications in 16 races in the Sunshine State in which pro-educational choice candidates won. Among those elected or re-elected to the state legislature were Rep. Darren Soto (D) in his successful bid for a state senate seat, as well as Holly Raschein (R), who, thanks to a strong ground game, won a House seat in the Florida Keys and Miami-Dade area.

There is substantial geographic and ideological diversity among the bipartisan coalition of candidates who won Tuesday in Tennessee, including Rep. John Ragan (R) and Dr. Steve Dickerson (R), who won a state senate seat. The Tennessee Federation for Children PAC, an affiliated organization of the American Federation for Children, invested heavily in independent expenditures in those races, ultimately emerging victorious in 15 of the 18 general election races in which it was involved. The organization also worked to help secure primary victories for Rep. John DeBerry (D) and Rep. Tony Shipley (R) of Memphis and Kingsport, respectively.

“The diversity of these candidates is indicative of the diversity of the broader educational choice movement,” Chavous said, “and the momentum it has gained over the past year.”

In Wisconsin, Rep. Travis Tranel (R) won re-election by over eight percentage points in a swing seat, while Rick Gudex (R) provided a key victory by defeating Sen. Jessica King, helping to flip the Senate and give a majority to educational choice supporters in the chamber.

This year’s political involvement by the Federation and its affiliated organizations represents one of their largest investments ever, reinforcing their pledge to ensure that high-quality, accountable school choice legislation is enacted for the children most in need.

Nationwide, there are 32 publicly-funded private school choice programs in 16 states and the District of Columbia. This year, it is anticipated that approximately 250,000 children will participate in these programs.