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California

Outside cash prominent in L.A. school board races

Outside spending is dominating campaigns for three seats on the Los Angeles Board of Education, surpassing $4.4 million through Friday.

The outcome of Tuesday’s primary is expected to shape the path of improvement efforts in the nation’s second-largest school system.

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The costliest race is in District 4, which spans the Westside and the western San Fernando Valley. There, one-term incumbent and former teacher Steve Zimmer faces parent and attorney Kate Anderson.

The pro-Anderson and anti-Zimmer effort has spent more than $1.1 million. Also, Anderson’s campaign has raised more than $250,000.

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Conversely, the pro-Zimmer and anti-Anderson independent campaign has spent more than $950,000. Zimmer’s campaign has collected $82,406.

Zimmer benefits from an independent campaign by employee unions and the L.A. County Federation of Labor. Anderson is backed by a coalition of wealthy donors, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and advocates for independently managed charter schools.

The coalition is the biggest money player, having assembled more than $3.2 million.

Spending in the other two races reflects campaign strategies of the coalition and the teachers union, United Teachers Los Angeles.

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In District 2, which stretches outward from downtown, the coalition supports two-term incumbent Monica Garcia. She is the mayor’s closest ally on the school board and a steadfast supporter of L.A. schools Supt. John Deasy.

The coalition hopes to push Garcia to victory on Tuesday by helping her capture more than 50% of the vote in a field with four challengers. The coalition has spent the lion’s share of a $1.2-million independent campaign; some unions also have chipped in with significant contributions. Garcia’s campaign has raised nearly $430,000.

Garcia’s challengers have raised a combined $46,000. The teachers union has divided a modest $18,000 among three of the challengers. Its goal is to force a runoff, and to that end, UTLA launched an anti-Garcia campaign at a cost of $90,000.

District 6, in the eastern San Fernando Valley, is an open seat. There, the coalition hopes to sweep Antonio Sanchez past two other candidates. Independent campaigns on his behalf — including support from some labor unions — have logged more than $1 million in expenditures. Sanchez’s own campaign has reported donations of close to $55,000.

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There are no independent campaigns on behalf of Monica Ratliff, who has raised about $15,000, or Maria Cano, who has raised about $17,000.

Hoping to preserve campaign resources, the teachers union has not helped fund a candidate in this contest, although it endorsed all three.

howard.blume@latimes.com


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