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Johnson holding money lead over McKenna; Vladovic has donors

Michael Janofsky | July 28, 2014

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Money race Alex Johnson George McKenna LAUSDNotes along the campaign trail:

In the money race for the open District 1 board seat, Alex Johnson continues to hold an overall lead over George McKenna, according to the City’s Ethics Commission

Through last week, Johnson had raised $47,646 to $6,450 for McKenna, an 8-to-1 ratio that hasn’t budged in weeks. In PAC money spent on the campaign’s behalf, Johnson supporters have written checks for $370,058, to $65,119 for McKenna.

The runoff election is now 16 days away, on Aug. 12, the same day school opens.

It’s entirely clear by now where all the support is coming from. Johnson has won the favor of reform groups, including the PAC affiliated with the California Charter Schools Association, which has spent $77,378, and a new PAC called Great Public Schools, which has spent $38,002 and includes lots of reformed-minded donors who support Superintendent John Deasy.

While that kind of support would appear to make Johnson sympathetic to board measures favorable to charter groups, he might be equally sympathetic to positions favored by his boss, Mark Ridley-Thomas. The largest amount spent on Johnson’s behalf, $245,754, comes from a voter registration and education group that Thomas founded 12 years ago, called the African American Voter Registration, Education & Participation Project (AAVREP).

The service employees union that serves LA Unified, SEIU Local 99, has also spent on Johnson’s behalf, $6,336.

All the money spent on McKenna’s behalf comes from one place: the PAC affiliated with UTLA, the teachers union.

* * *

While he has no opponent yet for his 2015 campaign to retain his seat on the board, President Richard Vladovic is now reporting that he has raised more than $37,000 in campaign contributions through the first half of this year.

Sixteen donors have kicked in as much as $1,000, including the limit of $1,100 from the LA School Police Association. Four-digit donors also include  an architect, a lobbyist and a party yacht operator.

Why would an unopposed sitting president need money? For lots of reasons beyond any reelection efforts, including giving money to other candidates and doing research on issues.

Vladovic is one of three board members up for reelection next year. The other two — Tamar Galatzan in District 3 and Bennett Kayser in District 5 — have drawn opponents. The District 1 seat will be contested again, and two candidates have filed. It’s unclear the whether the winner of McKenna-Johnson will join them.

* * *

One thing has been conspicuously missing from the campaign for the District 1 seat.

A debate.

While McKenna and Johnson have been piling up endorsements, no community group has stepped up to sponsor a one-on-one discussion of issues that might await the new school board member.

Some of the reasons are obvious: It’s summer. Hardly anyone is paying attention to politics. There is no other election to draw voters out on Aug. 12. Predictions of a low turnout, which have a way of self-fulfilling, have left would-be debate sponsors disinterested.

The absence of a debate leaves the truly-interested voter only a few options to learn more about where the candidates stand on various issues. They might attend a rally, buy in to a fundraiser or peruse their campaign websites.

The first option requires a visit to at least two. The second requires a donation. The third requires patience and a microscope.

While Johnson has articulated his positions on a variety of current issues on his campaign website, McKenna’s includes nothing from McKenna, himself.

Previous Posts: McKenna is the union candidate, but CTA gave to Johnson backers; Johnson campaign goes negative, citing the ‘myth’ of McKenna; Johnson outpacing McKenna in school board race for money

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