Outside Spending Skyrockets

A massive spending spree of $3.4 million by outside groups has broken records in the Los Angeles School Board races with still seven days left before the election. That’s an increase of $1 million in just a week, according to the latest figures available at the LA City Ethics Commission.

Low voter turnout and a fierce battle between two groups split along ideological lines could make this race one of the costliest per-voter in nation. Based on turnout figures from past elections, outside groups could spend more than $29 for each vote in this School Board election. That dwarfs the outside per-vote spending in the 2012 Presidential race, which was estimated by ProPublica to cost $8 a vote.

Continue reading for details on the big influx of money.

District 2 (Downtown, East LA)
Lines are drawn sharply in District 2, where the teachers union has vowed to unseat incumbent School Board President Monica Garcia, a strong advocate for school reform. The Coalition for School Reform has spent $615,000 on her behalf, an increase of more than $200,000 since last week. SEIU and AFL-CIO have spent another $218,000 on her behalf. Meanwhile, UTLA-PACE, the political arm of the teachers union, has spent about $90,000 on negative advertising. But the union is doing little on behalf of her challengers — three of which it has endorsed. The approach seems to be wait and see: with five names on the ballot, this race will certainly go to a runoff in May.

District 4 (Westside to Hollywood)
This Westside race has seen a big jump in spending. The two candidates, Kate Anderson, a reform candidate, and incumbent School Board member Steve Zimmer, who is teacher union supported, are in an all out sprint to the finish, and with just two candidates on the ballot, the race is certain to be decided on March 5.  To support Zimmer, the teachers union has teamed up with SEIU and AFL-CIO (who support the reform candidates elsewhere) to spend $484,000. In addition, it has spent $260,000 to oppose Anderson. On the other side, the Coalition for School Reform has spent $700,000 on behalf of Anderson, and another $130,000 to oppose Zimmer.

District 6 (East San Fernando Valley)
In this race, all candidates are supported by UTLA. But the reform group has singled out Antonio Sanchez to throw its weight behind, perhaps because Sanchez is the only candidate in District 6 who has voiced support for LAUSD Superintendent John Deasy. Here, the Coalition has teamed up with SEIU and AFL-CIO to spend almost $900,000 on his behalf, up from about $600,000 last week. The reform group may be betting that with such heavy spending Sanchez can win outright, but with three candidates in the field, this race is likely to go into a runoff.

Previous posts: Outside Spending Tops $2 Million, Grows Negative; Robust Fundraising Numbers for Candidates