Wisconsin Democracy Campaign
Campaign Cash

Outside Groups Spent $1 Million on State Superintendent Race

Groups backing Underly had 5-1 advantage over those backing Kerr.

By - Apr 7th, 2021 05:15 pm
Cash. (CC0 Creative Commons).

Cash. (CC0 Creative Commons).

Spending on outside electioneering activities by special interest groups topped $1 million in the state school superintendent’s race with Democratic groups outspending a Republican group about 5-to-1 as of Monday morning.

Technically a nonpartisan race, it pitted Pecatonica Area School Superintendent Jill Underly against Deborah Kerr, a former Brown Deer schools superintendent. Underaly won easily, with 58% of the vote.

Buf four groups that generally back Democratic candidates in partisan elections – A Better Wisconsin TogetherWisconsin Education Association Council (WEAC), Planned Parenthood Advocates of Wisconsin, and WEAC Region 7 PAC – doled out about $797,600 to support Underly or oppose Kerr.

American Federation for Children, a pro-school-voucher outfit founded by Betsy DeVos that generally backs Republicans, spent $209,000 to oppose Underly.

Two special legislative elections also saw spending by four outside electioneering groups totaling about $387,100.

In a special election for south-central Wisconsin’s 13th Senate District, Rep. John Jagler, R-Watertown, faced Democrat Melissa Winker and independent candidates Spencer Zimmerman and Ben Schmitz, and won with 51% of the vote.

Two groups, the rightwing Koch-backed Americans for Prosperity and the Republican State Leadership Committee, spent about $217,100 to support Jagler.

In northeastern Wisconsin’s 89th Assembly District special election, Republican Elijah Behnke faced Democrat Karl Jaeger on the April ballot. There was no outside spending directly for or against Behnke or Jaeger as of Monday.

But earlier, the Wisconsin Realtors Association and Wisconsinites for Liberty Fund, dumped $170,000 to support or oppose two GOP candidates who Behnke defeated in a five-way February primary. Behnke beat Jaeger in the general election, with 63% of the vote.

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