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Cuomo, Smikle, Hoyt, and Johnson races on DFER’s “hot list”

Four of the 15 campaigns the lobbying group Democrats for Education Reform is targeting this fall are in New York.

The group is actively raising money for Andrew Cuomo’s gubernatorial campaign, the re-election campaigns of State Senator Craig Johnson and Assemblyman Sam Hoyt, and for Basil Smikle’s race against State Senator Bill Perkins. DFER also wants to raise money to run other campaigns to influence other state senate races, but a report the organization released today didn’t specify which races.

Hoyt and Johnson led Albany’s efforts to pass legislation that helped New York win the federal Race to the Top competition. Both supported lifting the cap on charter schools early on, ignoring fierce opposition from the teachers’ unions — which aren’t endorsing them in this election. Cuomo has been less vocal so far on education, but DFER’s financing is a sign that he might favor the kind of policies the group endorses: the spread of charter schools, the introduction of merit pay, and the weakening of teacher tenure policies.

DFER has spent more than $17 million in three years trying to influence local elections, according to the report. The amount appears to have jumped recently. Last year, the group’s executive director told GothamSchools that DFER had spent “a few million” since 2006. The energy stems in part from the Race to the Top, President Barack Obama’s grant competition that prompted 34 states to change their laws to match Obama’s reform goals, which DFER vigorously supports.

Read DFER’s six-page report (in pdf) on its political goals here.