Posted by | April 23, 2012 15:25 | Filed under: Contributors News Behaving Badly Sandi Behrns

by Sandi Behrns

For what may be one of the strangest cases of “strange-bedfellows” this election season, we turn to the race for State Representative of Pennsylvania’s 188th district. So: what does a group of right-wing, anti-choice, anti-gay school privatization advocates have in common with an openly gay, Muslim woman? Money and cynicism, that’s what. Talk to Action’s Rachel Tabachnick reports:

How far is the school privatization juggernaut willing to go to disguise and promote their agenda? The Betsy DeVos-led American Federation for Children, through its PA affiliate Students First and its funding recipients, is financing the campaign of an openly gay, African American, Muslim woman for State Representative (188th District – West Philadelphia) in Pennsylvania’s Democratic primary.
Adding to the irony, a 2012 recipient of Students First funding has sponsored fliers touting Fatimah Muhammad’s liberal credentials and her willingness to challenge Governor Tom Corbett’s “War on Women.” Daniel Denvir wrote in the Philadelphia City Paper:

“This is politics at its most cynical: major funders of the pro-choice, pro-Muhammad ad are anti-abortion Republican extremists.”

If you follow the money trail, it shows that Students First has been funded solely by American Federation for Children in 2012.

To make matters even more convoluted, the American Federation for Children is closely tied to that very same Governor Corbett. In fact, he was the keynote speaker at their national conference last year. For those unfamiliar, Betsy Prince DeVos’ family and that of her husband Dick DeVos have been leading funders of Focus on Family, Family Research Council, Crisis Pregnancy Centers, Proposition Eight, and other anti-abortion and anti-gay rights organizations.

This is a Democratic primary battle. By all accounts, 26-year incumbent Jim Roebuck, current ranking Democrat on the House Education Committee, has run a rather lackluster campaign. It cannot be expected that Fatimah Muhammad is Betsy DeVos’ ideal candidate, but she and her organization are able to put that aside for a chance at taking out their biggest obstacle in the Pennsylvania House. Voting is tomorrow, so we shall soon see if crass political cynicism can triumph yet again.

By: Sandi Behrns

Sandi Behrns is a noted policy nerd, new media & web developer, and consultant to progressive organizations and campaigns. She is a senior contributor to Liberaland, and the Executive Editor of Progressive Congress News.