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In memo on the mayoral race, DFER tells everyone to “chill”

Democrats for Education Reform, the national political organization with local roots, is urging calm for anxious supporters who fear that a new mayor could weaken their hold on favored education policies.

“Don’t believe all of the doomsday talk you’ve heard surrounding the NYC mayoral race,” a political briefing memo on the mayoral race begins. The memo, which GothamSchools obtained from DFER, was sent out internally last month to supporters and funders.

The briefing was written in response to concerns raised by people who’ve pestered DFER to explain what its plans are in the race, according to an email sent by Executive Director Joe Williams.

“Since we are getting a lot of questions on this, I wanted to update you on our latest thinking regarding the NYC Mayor’s race,” Williams writes.

The briefing paints a surprisingly rosy picture of the race from a perspective of education advocates who have supported Mayor Bloomberg’s policies and often clashed with the teachers union. It goes on to suggest that its allies take a long view of the mayoral race, excuse the Democratic field’s eagerness to please the United Federation of Teachers, and take a second look at some of the candidates who’ve previously been antagonistic.

“You probably wouldn’t want to be supporting a candidate who was too stupid to try to get enough endorsements to win,” the memo says, referring to some of the candidates’ embrace of the UFT.

The memo names Bill Thompson, Christine Quinn and Anthony Weiner as the three most palatable candidates to focus their support around. Bill de Blasio has “offered the least support for issues of concern to education reform advocates,” perhaps a reference to the public advocate’s public spate with influential charter school leader Eva Moskowitz.

Republicans have “zero chance” right now, the memo says.

Democrats for Education Reform has kept a low profile in New York since it unsuccessfully backed several downstate candidates for state office in the 2010 elections. In the years since, it has continued to expand nationally, establishing chapters in 13 states and cozied up to Gov. Andrew Cuomo. Last year, it took a backseat seat to StudentsFirstNY, a once-emergent rival advocacy group that has since faded after its founding director left.

Its strategy on the mayoral race appears to be much of the same. It will “continue to QUIETLY work with Quinn, Thompson and Weiner” while “De-­escalating  education  reform  as  a  key  issue  in  the  PRIMARY  election.”

For now, DFER tells its supporters that it’s going to wait until after the UFT makes its endorsement: “This will mark the official start of the 2013 Mayor’s Race.”

After that, sources say that one thing to look out for is negative advertising funded by groups like DFER and StudentsFirstNY against its lesser favored candidates.

“It will be a long summer, with ups and downs and editorial page endorsements, but most of the action will heat up in the final weeks of August and early September.”

DFER Memo by GothamSchools.org