DFER Is Absent From the Ward 5 Race, But Finance Reports Offer Clues To Which Candidate Ed Reformers Prefer

The Democrats for Education Reform is dumping gobs of money into local races. The total from March through mid June, according to the D.C. chapter’s most recent finance report, comes to just shy of $1 million—a significant increase over the amount the organization spent in 2020, when two of the three candidates they backed for the D.C. Council lost.

This cycle, the pro-charter, anti-union group picked Mayor Muriel Bowser, Chairman Phil Mendelson, and Ward 3 contender Eric Goulet as their favorites. They haven’t weighed in directly in Ward 1, but finance reports show that DFER-DC transferred $50,000 to the LGBTQ Victory Fund PAC, which has spent about $72,000 supporting Salah Czapary, the former D.C. police officer challenging Ward 1 Councilmember Brianne Nadeau.

Conspicuously absent from DFER’s attempted sphere of influence is the race in Ward 5. Perhaps DFER-DC learned its lesson in 2018 when it backed Adrian Jordan over Zachary Parker in Ward 5’s State Board of Education race and lost. Or maybe it took the hint from a candidate forum hosted by DC for Democracy last November, where each of the candidates running to replace Ward 5 Councilmember Kenyan McDuffie said they would reject DFER’s endorsement (though Vincent Orange gave a different answer to the Washington Teachers’ Union).

So what, then, are D.C. voters to do if they can’t rely on a national education reform group to guide them at the polls? Candidates’ campaign finance reports and answers to questionnaires offer some clues.

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