With the April 12 runoff election for State Board of Education in Districts One and Seven now just hours away, financial info on the Secretary of State’s web site shows that incumbent Matt Brown has received more than $127,000 in contributions since the March 1 primary.
By comparison, his challenger, retired principal Jackie Zeigler has only raised $7,300. That is a 17-1 advantage for Brown. Zeigler lead the primary over Brown, winning both Mobile and Baldwin counties (Brown is from Baldwin). Brown raised $99,000 in his first campaign while Zeigler received only $4,000–a 24-1 advantage.
As in the primary, Brown is depending on Alabama political action committees and out-of-state billionaires to finance his campaign. He shows only raising $2,550 from individuals for the runoff. The Business Council of Alabama has contributed $90,000, the Alabama Farmers Federation gave $10,450 in contributions and in-kind contributions and the Alabama Federation for Children has donated $24,522 in in-kind support. (Info on file with Secretary of State shows that the money from AFC is actually part of a $50,000 donation from Alice Walton of Arkansas.)
BCA contributed $54,000 to Brown’s primary campaign. So they now show total contributions to Brown of $144,000. A review of records going back to 2010 show that this is the most BCA has ever spent on a state school board election.
One of the oddities of this race is that while BCA is a strong supporter of the Alabama College & Career Ready standards which are generally linked to the Common Core, Brown has come out as a strong opponent of Common Core in the runoff. One has to wonder why a group would give $144,000 to a candidate who claims to oppose one of their major issues.
Or is this just another case of say what you need to do to win the election and we’ll sort everything out later?
If I knew what would happen April 12 I would take my talent to Las Vegas. But I do know that I have yet to talk to an educator in District One who plans to vote for Brown.
And we’re all left to wonder why BCA and out-of-state billionaires are so anxious to control a seat on the Alabama State Board of Education.