CTA outspending ACSA in race

Update: Thanks to reader Eric Premack, who points out that charter booster and Netflix CEO Reed Hastings did report contributing $400,000 on Oct. 20 as an independent expenditure on behalf of Larry Aceves.

In the surrogate battle in the race for Superintendent of Public Instruction, behemoth California Teachers Assn. has spent $3.4 million this year on behalf of its chosen one, Assembly member Tom Torlakson. This is more than double what the smaller Association of California School Administrators has spent promoting its favorite son, retired superintendent Larry Aceves of San Jose. In late September, CTA reported having spent $1.5 million on radio ads for Torlakson.

So far this October, it’s been different. Keeping its powder dry, ACSA raised $604,000 and spent $639,000 from Oct. 1-16 in independent expenditures, on radio ads and slate mailers pushing Aceves’ candidacy, according to the latest  campaign finance reports. Since Jan. 1, ACSA reported spending $1.5 million for Aceves. CTA added $200,000 to its independent campaign and spent only $102,000 in October.

But heading down the stretch, CTA has $296,000 left in its campaign chest for Torlakson, while ACSA had only $5,750 as of the end of the latest reporting period, Oct. 16.

Torlakson also got help from the California Federation of Teachers, the smaller of the two teachers unions, which reported spending $180,000 on mailers in late September. (It spent $132,000 on mailers in the primary.) And two American Indian tribes, the Mission and the Chumash, reported spending $233,000 in the past two months on TV ads and mailers for Torlakson.

Independent expenditures have dwarfed  the candidates’ own campaigns. Aceves has raised only $166,000 since Jan. 1, including $37,000 in October. He spent $14,600 in October, leaving him $56,000 in the bank.

Torlakson has raised $1,056,000 since the start of the year, including $140,000 in October. He spent $88,000 this month, leaving him $327,000  to spend before the Nov. 2 election.

CTA poured money into the June primary, when Torlakson also faced state Sen. Gloria Romero, a Los Angeles Democrat who attacked the CTA and crossed it in pushing the state’s Race to the Top legislation this year.  Pro-charter school EdVoice, backed by philanthropists Eli Broad and Reed Hastings, spent $1.5 million promoting her candidacy. But, in a surprise finish in June, she came in third, narrowly behind Torlakson and Aceves.

Aceves is not nearly as threatening to CTA as Romero; he got along well with his union when he was superintendent of Franklin-McKinley School District in San Jose, and he is selling himself as someone who can bring factions together (also Torlakson’s theme). So, since June, CTA has been freed to focus its firepower on Meg Whitman. In the latest reporting period, CTA said it spent $3.4 million on the govenrnor’s race, mainly in anti-Whitman TV and radio ads.

EdVoice and the charter school funders have largely sat out the Torlakson-Aceves race, although Aceves recently got $2,500 from John Danner, founder of Rocketship Education, a charter school group in San Jose, and $2,500 from Virginia-based K12, which operates online charters nationwide, including operations in several California counties.

Aceves’ biggest contributors are the Silicon Valley power couple Jim and Becky Morgan (the latter a state senator from 1984 – 1993), who together have contributed $16,500 since Jan. 1.

Torlakson has gotten tens of thousands in donations from a bunch of unions, including those representing nurses, iron workers, peace officers, carpenters, and service workers.