California voters have seen a barrage of sunny television ads in recent weeks touting former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa’s record on finances, crime and education, aired by Families & Teachers for Antonio Villaraigosa for Governor 2018.
But the group is, in fact, largely funded by a handful of wealthy charter school supporters. Together they have spent more than $13 million in less than a month to boost Villaraigosa’s chances in the June 5 primary — at a time when his fundraising and poll numbers are lagging. Reed Hastings, the founder of Netflix, jump-started the group with a $7-million check, by far the largest donation to support any candidate in the election.
Their efforts are part of a broader proxy war among Democrats between teachers unions — longtime stalwarts of the party — and those who argue that the groups have failed low-income and minority schoolchildren.
Gary Borden, senior vice president of the California Charter Schools Assn. Advocates, which is behind the pro-Villaraigosa independent expenditure group, said it is backing Villaraigosa for his history of challenging the status quo in education as mayor of Los Angeles. While he led the city, he tried to take over its schools and blasted the influence of the teachers union in Los Angeles.
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