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Analysis: Endorsements & Funding No Guarantee

Alexander Russo | February 20, 2013

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Gloria Romero, the former Democratic state legislator who is now heading the California chapter of Democrats for Education Reform (DFER), announced her support for School Board President Monica Garcia last Wednesday, urging supporters to contribute to Garcia’s campaign.

The pro-charter, pro-accountability group issued a report card on Garcia and incumbent Steve Zimmer on Thursday morning. However, DFER-California isn’t providing any of its own funding, according to Romero, and a quick look back at advocacy group endorsements and outside funding reminds us  that resources are no guarantee of victory.

Money is great — everybody wants it, and it’s always good to have more than the other person.  (We’ll find out the latest fundraising figures Friday.)  But in LA and elsewhere, a big cash advantage doesn’t  always translate into a victory speech.

As KPCC’s Adolfo Guzman-Lopez reported last week, outside funding has been increasing in LA for at least a decade — the majority of the increases coming from the pro-charter, pro-accountability side of the debate, but also including state and national union funding.

Much the same has been happening at the national level, as this look back at 2012 from the Huffington Post recounts.

DFER endorsed and/or funded a handful of local school board candidates in 2012, with mixed results. For example, DFER-endorsed candidate Bill Ponder lost his effort to win a seat on the San Diego Board of Education.

StudentsFirst, the Sacramento-based school reform advocacy group run by former Washington DC schools chief Michelle Rhee, endorsed and/or funded candidates in 2012 — including Brian Johnson for State Assembly, who lost in the primary despite a funding advantage.

Closer to home, the Coalition for School Reform endorsed and funded Luis Sanchez in 2011 — but lost.

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