The union representing 26,000 "educational support professionals" in the public school system says today that Republican Rob McKenna can do in the governor's mansion what Democrat Jay Inslee can't. He can restore funding for K-12 education (even though he's never convincingly explained how he can do this without crushing employee unions). Meanwhile, Inslee is "too committed to preserving the status quo."

Explaining why it's taking a different tack from traditionally pro-Democratic-candidate unions, the Public School Employees of Washington/SEIU 1948 grips the protest chant "this is what Democracy looks like," adding, "Every labor union... is free to make its own decisions in this and any other race." The union has proactively buffered against criticisms with a (moderately defensive) Q&A that explains the unconventional union support for a Republican:

Aren't you abandoning basic union principles by endorsing a Republican for Governor?
Not at all. PSE has a strong, consistent record of supporting lawmakers and public officials who support our priorities. This means we have endorsed and contributed to both Democrats and Republicans. Our mission is to represent our members and advocate for quality public education. The #1 priority that education employees care about is funding for schools and universities.

Won’t Rob McKenna take away our collective bargaining rights?
We are a union and we strongly support collective bargaining. Rob McKenna has said over and over again during this campaign that he is not interested in taking away public employee collective bargaining rights. We take him at his word that he respects our right to collective bargaining and that he will be a tough, but fair negotiator.

Isn't this all about your fight over health insurance?
No. We are glad Rob McKenna supports reform of our health insurance system for K-12 employees. But again, the overwhelming issue for us in this race is education funding. Rob McKenna’s commitment to fully funding our schools is what sets him apart.

The Washington Education Association, which represents 83,000 teachers in the state, clashed with the PSE union over health-care benefits in this year's legislative session. The teachers union is endorsing Inslee.