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.