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Long IslandPolitics

Charter school group spent big on losing Assembly candidate

Giovanni Mata, a Democratic candidate for New York

Giovanni Mata, a Democratic candidate for New York State Assembly who lost in September's primary, poses for a portrait at the Upsky Hotel on Wednesday, July 20, 2016. Photo Credit: James Escher

The business-backed charter school group that spent $321,000 supporting Giovanni Mata’s primary challenge against Assemb. Phil Ramos (D-Brentwood) didn’t get much return on its investment.

Each vote cost the group, New Yorkers for Independent Action, at least $452.11.

Ramos, a seven term incumbent, racked up 1,916 votes, or 72.8 percent, while Mata got 710 votes, or 26.9 percent.

The $321,000 includes the charter group’s spending only as of the 11-day pre-primary campaign finance filing and the final number is likely to be higher. Filings for the group’s last-minute independent spending show another $171,000 going to Mata and several other contenders to pay for automated calls, ads, mailings and field operations.

The total spent on each candidate will not be detailed until the postelection campaign finance report due out later this month.

The charter group, which backs state legislation to create tax credits for donors to charter schools, says it aims to give poor students school choice.

Opponents, including the teachers union, say charters will siphon funding from public schools.

Spokesman Bob Bellafiore said the group was involved in eight races statewide and backed winners in four contests.

He conceded that no primary challenger facing an incumbent had won. But he said, “The era of electoral dominance” of teachers unions is over.

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