Last night I learned from someone who is very knowledgeable about the current Board of Education campaign that a significant Super PAC is spending $25 thousand today to get out the vote in specific Districts with what is called “walking around” or “street” money. Wikipedia defines this as:
….an American political tactic in which local party officials are given legal cash handouts by … [a] campaign in exchange for the official’s support in turning out voters on election day.
As noted in the definition, there is nothing illegal about the practice, but it is important that the voters know that it is underway and that it could have a significant impact on today’s runoff election. This practice has been used in prior Atlanta elections and could easily have been the determining factor in a mayoral election that was decided by less than 800 votes Citywide.
Based on the confidential source, the “street” money will likely be used to get out the vote in support of candidates backed by Mayor Reed’s Super PAC which has raised over $200 thousand over the last 45 days. Mayor Reed has shown a strong interest in gaining a greater level of influence and control over the Atlanta Public School Board and, in addition to the Super PAC’s funding of specific candidates, Mayor Reed has raised funds from local business interests to increase the next APS superintendent’s compensation by $300 thousand, to $600 thousand per year.
It is likely that the get out the vote effort will be used to increase the voter turnout in Districts 1, 2 and 5 and in support of incumbent Reuben McDaniel (AL-8) and Steven Lee (D-5).
Reuben McDaniel, who is reputedly a close associate of Mayor Reed, is in a tight race with Cynthia Briscoe Brown. As I noted in a post yesterday, the turnout for this race will likely determine the outcome. The higher the turnout in Districts 2 and 6, the more the race outcome favors McDaniel. On the opposite side, the higher the turnout in Districts 3 and 4, with District 4 being the most critical, the more the race outcome favors Brown.
Steven Lee, a small business owner that is strongly supported by Atlanta City Councilman CT Martin, is also in a tight race against academic coach and former IT professional Mary Palmer for the District 5 seat. In the general election, Lee received 36.9% of the vote and Palmer gained 36.3%. The other two candidates in the general election, who garnered 26.4% of the vote, have indicated their support for Palmers runoff campaign.
During the District 5 campaign, it was reported by APN that Lee had used a ‘diploma mill’ Ph.D. to enhance his educational credentials. When Lee was confronted with this by WSBTV, he stated “…he no longer references the doctorate degree because he’s running based on his community work.” However, Lee is still using the “Dr.” title as shown on the non-profit organization website that describes Lee’s position as “Dr. Steven Lee is the Executive Director of UNCC” (see here & here).
Again, as noted in earlier posts (see here and here), turnout today will decide four positions on the Board of Education that will be tasked with many important and difficult decisions in the months ahead.
No matter where you live in the City, your vote matters and your vote will determine the path that APS follows over the next four years.
Please go out vote today!
[Follow me on Twitter @Financial_Decon]