Union endorses Gallagher's opponent
By SHELBY OPPEL
© St. Petersburg Times, published October 10, 2000
TALLAHASSEE -- Florida's largest teachers union, a vocal critic of Republican state Education Commissioner Tom Gallagher, has endorsed Gallagher's Democratic opponent in the state insurance commissioner's race.
The Florida Education Association is supporting state Rep. John Cosgrove of Miami in the race, said Maureen Dinnen, the group's president. Cosgrove shares the union's desire for "meaningful education reform," including smaller class sizes and higher per-pupil spending, she said.
Dinnen said the union is taking sides in the race because the insurance commissioner is a member of the state Cabinet. Until a change in the state Constitution takes effect in 2002, the Cabinet and governor will continue to sit as the state Board of Education.
During Gallagher's two-year tenure as education commissioner, the union has criticized his support for Gov. Jeb Bush's school grading plan, which provides private school tuition vouchers to students in failing public schools.
At a Monday news conference to announce the endorsement, Cosgrove challenged Gallagher to a public debate "anywhere, any time." He also said he would not accept any money from private corporations or his state party to pay for future campaign ads if Gallagher would make the same pledge.
Gallagher's campaign manager, Walter Graham, said Gallagher would debate Cosgrove at the invitation of a third party. Gallagher also will discuss campaign spending limits if Cosgrove agrees to return money he has received from the Florida Democratic Party, Graham said.
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From the Times state desk
From the state wire