The race for the Wisconsin Superintendent of Public Instruction post in the April election is down to two candidates with differing positions on a hot-button topic: the shifting of taxpayer dollars from public schools to those operating with vouchers, often referred to by pro-voucher advocates as school choice.
Jill Underly, who does not favor vouchers, and Deborah Kerr, who does, topped the seven person field in yesterday’s nonpartisan (wink-wink) primary election.
Underly, who was supported by the state’s top teacher’s union, was the top vote getter with 88,703 votes in the statewide voting. She is the superintendent of the Pecatonica Area School District,Kerrr, a former superintendent in Brown Deer, was right behind with 86,045. Collectively, they pulled in 55% of the total vote of 344,584.
Underly had strong support from Democrats and the teacher’s unions, while Kurr, who says she is a Democrat, had strong support from Republicans.
Underly participated in a virtual Green Lake County Dems & Friends meeting on Feb. 6. Kerr was invited to participate in that meeting, but she did not respond to the invite.
Finishing a distant seventh with 27,422 was Fond du Lac’s Joe Fenick. Fenick is also a Fond du Lac County supervisor and high school science teacher.
As a recent article in the Wisconsin State Journal reported, school choice, championed in recent years by Republicans, has long been a litmus test in races for state superintendent.
Kerr raised the most money for her campaign
The State Journal article also revealed that Kerr raised “just over $28,000 in January and spent about $58,500, the report filed late Monday with the state shows. She had nearly $20,000 cash on hand in the two weeks before the primary. Her report shows a $15,000 contribution from Arthur Dantchik, a conservative mega-donor from Pennsylvania who has given nearly $147,000 to Republican candidates in Wisconsin over the past decade, according to the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign.”
Sheila Briggs, who finished third with 50,741 votes, currently an assistant state superintendent, raised the second most in January, at just over $19,400. She had about $30,500 cash on hand, added the State Journal. Underly, the superintendent at Pecatonica Area School District, “raised nearly $18,000 and had about $30,200 cash on hand.” The Wisconsin State Education Association PAC gave Underly’s campaign $18,000.
For these candidates, funds left over from the primary, help them support their campaigns for the election on April 6.