Bloomberg’s presidential bid — and his ties to Idaho’s education debate

Michael Bloomberg is entering the crowded field for the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination — and at least one Idaho Democrat isn’t impressed.

On Sunday, state Rep. John McCrostie took to Twitter to remind his followers of the former New York City mayor’s ties to former Idaho state superintendent Tom Luna’s ill-fated efforts to overhaul Idaho education.

McCrostie, a music teacher who sits on the House Education Committee, is referring back to Idaho’s bitter 2012 election. In November 2012, voters overwhelmingly rejected three education laws passed by the 2011 Legislature. On the ballot, the laws went by the names Propositions 1, 2 and 3 — while supporters called them the Students Come First laws and critics dismissed them as the Luna Laws.

Bloomberg came into the picture on Sept. 18, 2012, when he cut a $200,000 check to Education Voters of Idaho, the group that led the campaign in support of Props 1, 2 and 3. But the donation didn’t become public until late October, after then-Secretary of State Ben Ysursa filed a lawsuit demanding that Education Voters of Idaho make its donor list public.

Bloomberg’s donation was a big part of the story at the time, given his national profile. But the partisan politics — which McCrostie alludes to in his tweet — also are worth noting. Luna, a Republican, pushed his three education laws through the 2011 Legislature with no Democratic support (and, indeed, some Republican legislators joined Democrats in opposition).

It’s too early to guess how Idaho Democrats will vote in the race for the 2020 nomination, and how Bloomberg’s last-minute bid might resonate locally or nationally. It is fair to say that by supporting Luna’s policies, Bloomberg is tied to a brand that remains toxic in Idaho Democratic circles.

Disclosure: J.B. Scott, a member of the J.A. and Kathryn Albertson Family Foundation’s board of directors, contributed $250,000 to Education Voters of Idaho. Idaho Education News is funded through a grant from the Albertson Foundation. 


Kevin Richert

Kevin Richert

Senior reporter and blogger Kevin Richert specializes in education politics and education policy. He has more than 30 years of experience in Idaho journalism. He is a frequent guest on "Idaho Reports" on Idaho Public Television and "Idaho Matters" on Boise State Public Radio. Follow Kevin on Twitter: @KevinRichert. He can be reached at [email protected]

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