Big Money Wins In L.A.: Billionaires’ Hand-Picked Candidate Nick Melvoin Spent 71 Percent Of The Money To Get 57 Percent Of The School Board Vote
By Peter Dreier
Once Nick Melvoin joins the Los Angeles Unified School District board, he’s going to require all high school civics teachers to add a new lesson plan to their curriculum: “How To Buy An Election.”
That’s what happened on Tuesday. Melvoin and his billionaire backers dramatically outspent school board president Steve Zimmer’s campaign, making the District 4 race the most expensive in LAUSD history.
Political pundits will spend the next few days and weeks analyzing the Los Angeles school board election, examining exit polls, spilling lots of ink over how different demographic groups — income, race, religious, union membership, gender, party affiliation, and others — voted on Tuesday.
But the real winner in the race was not Nick Melvoin, but Big Money. And the real loser was not Steve Zimmer, but democracy – and LA’s children.
Melvoin’s backers — particularly billionaires and multi-millionaires who donated directly to his campaign and to several front groups, especially the California Charter School Association (CCSA) — outspent Zimmer’s campaign by $6.6 million to $2.7 million. Melvoin got 30, 696 votes to Zimmer’s 22,766. In other words, Melvoin spent 71% of the money to get 57% of the vote.
Here’s another way of looking at the election results: Melvoin spent $215 for each vote he received, while Zimmer spent only $121 per vote.
There’s no doubt that if the Zimmer campaign had the same war-chest that Melvoin had, he would have been able to mount an even more formidable grassroots get-out-the-vote campaign and put more money into the TV and radio air war. Under those circumstances, it is likely that Zimmer would have prevailed.
Billionaires, many of whom live far from Los Angeles, bought this election for Melvoin. Their money paid for non-stop TV and radio ads, as well as phone calls, mailers and newspaper […]