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Why the Coalition’s Going All Out to Elect Sanchez

Hillel Aron | May 1, 2013

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Coalition flyer on behalf of D6 School Board candidate Antonio Sanchez

The Coalition for School Reform has already spent nearly $200,000 since the March 5th primary to support Antonio Sanchez‘s bid to replace Nury Martinez as District 6 Board Member.

With around $1 million left in the bank thanks to recent donations by former Mayor Richard Riordan ($50,000), New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg ($350,000), and philanthropist / art collector Eli Broad ($250,000), you can look for the Coalition to be spending a whole lot more as we enter the final three weeks of the campaign.

And yet, with the teachers union having endorsed both candidates, and therefore somewhat of a non-factor in the election, and both remaining candidates having committed to supporting LAUSD Superintendent John Deasy, it’s worth asking: why’s the Coalition still raising (and spending) so much money, and what are they doing with it?

“We take nothing for granted,” said Coalition spokesman Addisu Demissie, who added that much of the money would go to beefing up the Coalition’s field organization. “We learned in the primary that turnout is important, so we’re investing heavily so that we turn out voters in May.”

Indeed, despite its massive financial advantage, the Coalition has several reasons  to take every possible step to ensure that Sanchez is elected.

The reasons for the Coalition’s concerns are fairly straightforward:

The Coalition’s field operation for the March primary wasn’t powerful enough to secure a win for District 2 candidate Kate Anderson or a majority vote for Sanchez (which would have precluded the need for a runoff in District 6).

Sanchez’s runoff opponent, Monica Ratliff, has been endorsed by the LA Times and the LA Daily News.

Ratliff finished second in the primary with 34 percent, just 10 points behind the much better-funded Sanchez.

More importantly, she’s a teacher, which makes her popular with other teachers — many of whom vote and have friends and relatives who vote — and also a union representative for her school — which makes her popular with union members. Teachers were a main reason Bennett Kayser defeated Luis Sanchez in 2011.

A source close to Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, who is the unofficial fundraiser-in-chief for the Coalition, said there was another reason to spend so much on Sanchez: to remind him what side his bread is buttered.

“Antonio Sanchez will know who got him elected,” said the source.

After all, Sanchez is endorsed by every major interest group, including the SEIU Local 99, the service workers union. One might think, then, that he would be a moderate, consensus-building Board Member — perhaps even in the mold of Steve Zimmer, who gives just about everyone headaches with his compromises and changes of view.

The Coalition does not want another Steve Zimmer.

Demissie denied that binding Sanchez to its reform agenda was a reason for the continued fundraising and spending: “The Coalition supports him because we think he’s the best candidate for LAUSD.”

The Coalition’s mailers have all been positive so far, touting his endorsements from Riordan, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, and a host of others.

Previous posts: Rumors Swirl Around Sanchez Staff PossibilitiesDistrict 6 Candidate Commits to Support DeasyUndaunted, NYC Mayor Gives $350,000 to Reform CoalitionCoalition for School Reform Gets Big Donations

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