Teachers union super PAC ups spending to defend Kayser’s seat
LA School Report | February 11, 2015
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The teachers union super PAC is starting to spend on behalf of school board District 5 incumbent Bennett Kayser, unleashing a flurry of campaign pieces to defend his seat in what is shaping up to be the most hotly contested race in this election.
To date, the Super PAC, an independent expenditure committee, run by UTLA-PACE, has spent more than $128,000 on direct mail pieces in English and Spanish in support of Kayser’s re-election. According to filings at City Ethics, half of that has gone into a radio ad that features two actresses playing the parts of voters. (See script here – and note the misspelling of “Bennett.”)
A super PAC led by the California Charter School Association (CCSA) has spent nearly the same amount, $129,000, on behalf of one of Kayser’s challengers, Ref Rodriguez, a charter school operator. Some of it goes negative.
Kayser, a 69-year-old retired science teacher from Echo Park was first elected in 2011 in a bitter battle against Luis Sanchez, a reform candidate supported by then-Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa.
In that election, UTLA-PACE spent more than $1.4 million on Kayser’s behalf, and he won narrowly in a run-off. During his four years on the board, his policies have hewed closely to the interests of the leadership of the teachers union, frequently voicing criticism of charter schools and opposing the policies of reform-minded superintendent John Deasy, who stepped down last year.
That makes him a prime target for reformers, many of whom back Rodriguez. A second challenger, Andrew Thomas, has positioned himself as more neutral in the teachers vs. reformers smackdown.