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Reform Coalition Focuses Massive War Chest on Mailers

Hillel Aron | May 16, 2013

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Close-up of Coalition mailer for District 6 candidate Antonio Sanchez

As of May 4, the independent expenditure (IE) committee known as the Coalition for School Reform had a staggering $850,000 left in the bank, according to papers filed with the City Ethics Commission.

That dwarfs the $55,000 left in the coffers of the Antonio Sanchez campaign, whom the Coalition is supporting, as well as the $21,000 held by the Monica Ratliff campaign.

Both are seeking to win the District 6 (East Valley) School Board runoff election that’s being held May 21.

Rather than airing new ads on television or radio, or going for broke with a door-to-door field operation, Coalition spokesman Addisu Demissie said the group would spend heavily on direct mail.

“The good thing about mail is, we can talk to different people in specific ways,” Demissie told LA School Report.  “It’s more efficient that way. You know how expensive TV can be in Los Angeles.”

The Coalition’s recent mailers have all been positive — in contrast to some of the pieces sent out in the primary, some of which were negative.

Sounding fairly confident, Demissie stressed that the general election doesn’t exist in a vacuum, and that the money spent during the primary — some of which went to talking to and registering non-traditional voters — would have an effect on the runoff.

“A lot of the benefits of running a strong primary and coming in first, we’re gonna see the benefits of that next week,” he said. “It’s compound interest.”

The Coalition’s beefed-up 2013 field campaign has continued, according to Demissie, but is not expected to generate massive increases.

“What we’ve been doing in our field is talking to non-traditional voters, doing voter registration, particularly in the Latino community,” he said.  “It’s not a huge number to be honest. It’s on the margins. That’s the kind of work that field does — it gets you three percent.”

The Coalition for School Reform has been a semi-permanent organization throughout the Villaraigosa years, promoting reform-friendly School Board candidates. With the election less than one week away and no television advertisements currently on air, it’s unlikely that the Coalition will spend all of its money before May 21.

The Coalition could save some money for the next School Board elections in 2015.

“Honestly, no decisions have been made about what we’re going to do with the money,” said Demissie. “I’m focused on Tuesday.”

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