Election 2017

Evers, Holtz clinch state superintendent nominations

Incumbent Tony Evers and former Beloit superintendent Lowell Holtz advanced to the general election for state superintendent Tuesday, after defeating opponents John Humphries and Rick Melcher in the spring primary.

Image By: Maggie Aletha

Incumbent State Superintendent Tony Evers and former Beloit superintendent Lowell Holtz advanced to the general election in Wisconsin’s only statewide primary on Tuesday. Holtz defeated fellow Republican-backed consultant John Humphries and write-in candidate Rick Melcher.

Receiving about seven percent of votes, Holtz still trailed far behind Evers, who received 88.7 percent of votes. Humphries polled at four percent and the write-in candidate at .3 percent.

“The real winners tonight are Wisconsin’s 860,000 public school kids,” Evers said in a statement. “I am proud of where we are today. We have high graduation rates, suspensions are down, attendance is up, and the number of kids earning college credit in high school is at an all-time high.”

Evers, who is running for his third four-year term as the state’s highest ranking educator, faced criticism from his opponents for supporting Common Core state standards and for low elementary school reading levels in the state.

Evers has argued for increasing funding to help struggling urban schools. The candidate has gained support from union leaders, public school advocates and democrats.

Holtz campaigned on being a more experienced educator and clear conservative. He supports increasing private school voucher programs, overturning Common Core and has called for better discipline in schools and to make classrooms safer.

Holtz’s right-leaning policies earned him the support of two dozen Republican lawmakers, several pro-life advocates and Wisconsin business leaders.

Holtz and Humphries were plagued by accusations of foul play in the week leading up to the election.

Less than a week before the primary, Humphries admitted in a Feb. 15 interview with the Wisconsin State Journal that he had made an agreement with Holtz to collaborate to defeat Evers.

The candidates met on Dec. 22 and made an agreement that Humphries would drop out of the race if they both advanced in the primary, in exchange for a $150,000, no-cut contract with full benefits and a driver at the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction. The agreement is illegal under state law.

According to the agreement, the candidate who dropped out would be given jurisdiction over creating rules, changing boards, breaking apart districts and be allowed to appoint their own deputy superintendents for several of Wisconsin’s largest school districts. The districts mentioned in the agreement were Milwaukee, Racine, Kenosha, Madison and possibly Green Bay.

“We are going to shake up Milwaukee and it is going to make noise,” Lowell said in the agreement.

UPDATE Feb. 21, 10:42 p.m.: This story has been updated to include more information.

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