Democrats for Education Reform-backed candidate Brandon Todd

Candidates in the 2016 D.C. Council and State Board of Education races will have another PAC to court. Democrats for Education Reform-D.C., a new PAC with a connected independent expenditure, is looking to fund candidates in next year’s races.

The PAC, the local branch of Democrats for Education Reform, launched last week at the home of former Louisiana Senator Mary LandrieuMuriel Bowser gave a speech, while former Mayor Tony Williams, Ward 5 Councilmember Kenyan McDuffie, Ward 4 Councilmember Brandon Todd, and Ward 8 Councilmember LaRuby May also attended. (Todd and May won their seats in April with help from DFER.)

DFER-D.C. Director Catharine Bellinger says the group wants to back candidates who will “expand access to quality seats in schools.” For her, that means backing flexibility for principals and increasing attendance at successful schools.

Prominent DFER critic Diane Ravitch, meanwhile, has called the group’s national organization “the go-to place for candidates who hope to tap into Wall Street campaign funds.”

Bellinger says the PAC hasn’t decided on which races to back candidates in next year. The group is rumored to have paid for the May phone poll that weighed Ward 5 Councilmember Kenyan McDuffie and former attorney general candidate Edward “Smitty” Smith against Councilmember Vincent Orange in next year’s at-large race. Bellinger says she “can’t confirm” that her group paid for the poll.

Speaking of Smitty, don’t expect him to be on the list of candidates competing for DCDFER’s endorsement next year. Former Smitty campaign manager John Rodriguez tells LL that Smitty, now a Bowser administration bigwig, “will not be running at this time.”

Photo by Darrow Montgomery