What is the cost of running for the Michigan state school board?

Linda Lee Tarver launched her state Board of Education campaign with her own money of $ 5,000.

Over the past year, that figure has risen to $ 105,000, nearly the size of all seven competitors combined, according to the campaign’s financial disclosures.

The Republican raised much of this money, several thousand dollars at a time, from conservative coalitions and wealthy donors, including several from the real estate industry.

Tarver spent them on billboards, advertisements, web designers, a $ 961 stay at Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago home and club, where she had a private meeting with the former president, and $ 7,585 as expenses for meetings at the Lansing soup venue which became her de facto office.

Just today, she launched a 30-second TV spot on streaming services including Hulu and Amazon Prime. These expenses – about $ 10,000 – will be included in the campaign’s upcoming financial report, Tarver said.

Eight candidates are running for two seats on the state school council, which currently consists of five Democrats and two Republicans. Democratic governor Gretchen Whitmer is expected to appoint an eighth member of the board soon to fulfill Jason Strayhorn’s perennial term, who resigned in July.

Council members serve eight years, setting education priorities and overseeing public education in the state, but their powers are limited in a state where education policies and budgets are set by state legislatures. The most important authority for a board of directors is to hire and fire a state superintendent.

Find out more about candidate positions here.

Democrat Mitchell Robinson raised $ 38,000. Democrat Pamela Pugh, the only incumbent person, raised $ 32,900.

A colleague of the Republican, Tamara Carlone, did not submit a pre-election financial report, which was supposed to take place on Friday. Her latest report, submitted on September 29, shows that she raised $ 35,500, half of which remained from her attempt to secure a seat in 2020.

Four of the race’s minor party candidates are exempt from filing campaign financial reports because they have raised less than $ 1,000. They are: Donna Gundle-Krieg and Bill Hall of the Libertarian Party; Mary Anne Kering of the Working Class Party and Ethan Hobson of the US Taxpayer Party.

That puts the total race expenses up to $ 214,000 so far, up from $ 72,000 in total expenses for the last election cycle. She is still shy about the $ 360,000 applicants spent in 2006 and the $ 333,000 spent in 2016.

Tarver’s contributions are high in the state Board of Education race, but not unprecedented.

Former Republican state Board of Education member Eileen Weiser raised $ 296,900 for her 2006 campaign. In 2016, Democrats Ish Ahmed and John Austin raised $ 113,200 and $ 65,300 respectively.

Still, the six-digit fundraising for state board seats is remarkable, said Simon Schuster, senior political reporter at MLive and former executive director of the nonprofit and non-party Michigan Campaign Finance Network.

The high level of fundraising is not surprising in a year when education issues are at the forefront of the top price race, Schuster said.

“Education and what should be taught in schools is so close to the top that I think these are the most important Education Council elections we have had in many cycles,” said Schuster.

Tarver polling stations are large enough to put her name and image in front of many voters. That could make a difference to voters who may not pay attention to the racing downhill, said Rebecca Jacobsen, a professor of education policy and politics at Michigan State University.

Money enables candidates to reach more voters and in a more professional manner with their name and campaign message.

“When you don’t know much about the problems, but the name starts to sound familiar, you think,” Yes, that sounds great, “said Jacobsen, who has been studying money at local school council races for over a decade. .

There are also downsides to having strong funding, she said.

“Our research shows that in interviews with candidates for district school councils, we found that the money brought with them requires a very strong personal attitude on some highly politicized issues, so the candidates felt there was no room for compromise” – Jacobsen said. Candidates felt they had to preach more extreme views than they could have in person, and that there has been increased politicization in boards after their election, she said.

This, she said, did not leave much room for moderate candidates with pragmatic beliefs to support causes that were not on the national political agenda.

Here is a summary of the main contributions and expenses of applicants, according to the campaign financial records that applicants have submitted to the Department of State:

Linda Lee Tarver

Tarver’s greatest associates are Weiser, a former member of the state Board of Education, and her husband Ron, a real estate investor from Ann Arbor, a member of the University of Michigan Council of Regents and chairman of the Michigan Republican Party. They gave her a total of $ 9,650.

The Weisers are also the main financiers of the Republican campaigns. During this election cycle, they donated $ 3 million to the state Republican Party, as well as nearly $ 400,000 to state candidates and $ 100,000 to a political committee supporting tax credits for voucher-like scholarships. They also donated over $ 4 million to federal campaigns and political action committees.

Other key contributors to the Tarver campaign include Terri Lynn Land of the Byron Center, member of the Wayne State University board of governors and former secretary of state; Terry Applegate of Ivins, Utah; Dan Hibma, real estate partner in Wyoming, Michigan; Bobby Schostak, developer in Livonia; and the American Conservative Caucus in Collinsville, Illinois, each donated $ 7,150, the maximum individual contribution allowed.

Mitchell Robinson

Robinson’s largest contributions were: the Michigan Education Association’s Political Action Committee ($ 5,000), the Michigan Regional Carpenters Council ($ 2,500), and the American Federation of PAC Teachers ($ 2,000).

His biggest spending is $ 2,500 for the state Democratic Party, $ 2,300 for postcards, and $ 1,272 for signs.

Pamela Pugh

Pugh’s biggest donor is her father, John Pugh, a retired professor at Delta College, who donated $ 6,821. State law exempts immediate family members from campaign contribution limits.

Pugh also donated $ 2,000 to her own campaign.

Other major donors were the Michigan Education Association’s PAC ($ 5,200), the Michigan Regional Carpenters ‘Council ($ 2,500), and the American PAC Teachers’ Federation ($ 2,000).

The top spend it reported was $ 3,360 for signboards, $ 2,500 for the state Democratic Party, $ 1,800 for a campaign coordinator, and $ 1,665 for campaign publication.

Tamara Carlone

Carlone’s best associates are Jon Sorber of Spring Lake, co-owner of Two Men and a Truck International Inc. ($ 2,500); 11. Congressional Republican Party ($ 2,000); retired Deborah Debacker of Troy ($ 1,250); and Jennifer Conely of Brighton, owner of Conley Auto ($ 1,000).

The largest expenditure she reported was $ 2,418 for T-shirts, $ 2,362 for campaign literature, and $ 630 for the website.

Election day is November 8.

Chalkbeat Contribution Senior Data Editor Thomas Wilburn.

Tracie Mauriello is in charge of state education policy for Chalkbeat Detroit and Bridge Michigan.


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