This Q&A is from the desk of MSTA’s Political Action Manager, Krista Meyer.
Why does MSTA endorse candidates?
MSTA began endorsing candidates for the Missouri House and Missouri Senate in 2000 in an effort to develop relationships with new legislators who were replacing those with term-limits. Our endorsement process is solely based on the candidates’ position on education, not their political party. By endorsing candidates, MSTA members and staff can work to get pro-education candidate elected and can work with legislators before they are elected, developing good working relationships early.
How does the endorsement process work?
All candidates receive a survey from MSTA in April. Incumbents do not have to fill out a survey to be considered for endorsement. Challengers need to fill out a survey to be considered. Once we receive surveys and evaluate all incumbents, The Impact Committee evaluates the races to see if MSTA will endorse and when the endorsements will take place. Some races are decided in the August primary. If MSTA and the Impact Committee choose to endorse a candidate in a race that will be decided in August, the Committee must choose their endorsement during the Impact Committee’s June meeting. Prior to the June meeting, Impact Committee schedules interviews at the local level with high-priority or primary-only races. MSTA members from the region form a committee and conduct the interviews with the candidates. The regional committees make an endorsement recommendation to the Impact Board. At their meeting, the Impact Board discusses all races and makes a determination in each race: to endorse, contribute financially or to not participate.
After the August primary, the Impact Board members call together the regional and local committees once again to interview in races that will be decided in November. The Impact Board meets again in September to make their final endorsements.
What does and MSTA endorsement mean?
MSTA members are busy. They may not have the time to investigate every candidate’s credentials. The Impact Committee is designed to do the legwork by studying all the candidates and sharing their findings with the membership of MSTA. The Impact Committee feels that MSTA members can support MSTA-endorsed candidates with the knowledge that they have been vetted and will be supportive of Missouri teachers and students.
Why don’t you endorse in every race?
The MSTA Impact Committee isn’t required to endorse in every race. There are several reasons why a race can have no endorsed candidate. Sometimes the candidates are equally qualified to receive the MSTA endorsement. MSTA doesn’t endorse more than one candidate per race. In some cases, neither candidate is up to the standard or getting an MSTA endorsement. In other cases, we don’t have enough information on the race and rather than making an uninformed decision, the Impact Board decides to opt out.
How can I participate in the MSTA endorsement process?
In making their endorsement determinations, the Impact Committee collects a lot of information. If you know a candidate who would be a supporter of public education, let us know! You can email the MSTA’s Political Action Manager, Krista Meyer at firstname.lastname@example.org. With 400 candidates it’s impossible to track down every one’s credentials and we rely on MSTA members to give us feedback.
Another way to get involved is to serve on a local interview committee. The local committees meet for a few hours and decide which candidates to endorse after reviewing candidate surveys, incumbent voting records and interviewing the candidates. People serving on the committees agree to decide whom to endorse based on the candidates’ views on education policy and not on other issues or political party.
Candidates depend on volunteers to help them get elected. If you support a candidate, there are many ways to help their campaign. MSTA members can knock on doors, put up yard signs, and hosted meet-and-greet gatherings for MSTA-endorsed candidates.
Don’t forget to vote in the August Primary on Aug 7!