Boosted by a funding surge in the final days of the primary campaign, some leading charter school advocates are going for broke in their support for Antonio Villaraigosa’s bid to become the next governor of California. Their goal is to see if Villaraigosa can come in at least second behind Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom in today’s primary election.
It is a risky strategy because ever since he entered the race, Villaraigosa has always lagged behind Newsom in the polls, and in several has polled near or even behind GOP candidate John Cox. Under California’s primary election laws, only the top two candidates will go on to the November general election, regardless of their party affiliation.
Families and Teachers for Villaraigosa, an independent expenditure committee established by the California Charter Schools Association Advocates, has raised $22.5 million in less than two months, principally from wealthy contributors in California and elsewhere. Of that amount, $5.1 million came in since the end of the last reporting period, which was May 19. The funds have been used mainly for television and radio ads, including some attacking Newsom, and glossy brochures on Villaraigosa’s behalf. According to the most recent California Secretary of State reports, it appears that most of the funds will have been spent by the end of the primary season.
The campaign contributions have been backed up by an extensive phone banking operation mobilizing charter school supporters to maximize the turnout on Villaraigosa’s behalf in today’s election. Villaraigosa was endorsed by the California Charter Schools Association Advocates in March.