Wisconsin Democracy Campaign
Campaign Cash

Record Outside Group Spending for Underly

A record $1.02 million spent on state superintendent race, 80% of it by liberal groups.

By - Apr 13th, 2021 03:34 pm
Jill Underly. Photo courtesy of Underly for Wisconsin.

Jill Underly. Photo courtesy of Underly for Wisconsin.

Outside election spending by special interest groups in this spring’s race for state school superintendent topped $1 million – a record, a Wisconsin Democracy Campaign preliminary review found.

Pecatonica Area School Superintendent Jill Underly, who was backed by Democratic-leaning groups and contributors in the nonpartisan April 6 race, defeated Deborah Kerr, a retired Brown Deer School District superintendent, who was backed by GOP-leaning groups and contributors.

Eight outside groups spent $1.02 million in the race, which sharply surpassed the previous record of $693,722 in the 2009 contest for state school superintendent.

Six groups supported Underly or opposed Kerr and spent about $810,460. That was nearly four times more than the $214,000 that two groups spent to back Kerr or oppose Underly.

The groups that backed Underly or opposed Kerr were:

A Better Wisconsin Together, which spent $780,210 on digital, cable, and broadcast television ads,

Planned Parenthood Advocates of Wisconsin, which spent $16,606 on online ads, text messages and robocalls,

Blue Sky Waukesha, which spent $10,976 on mailings,

Wisconsin Muslim Civic Alliance, which spent $1,600 on digital ads to support Underly,

Wisconsin Education Association Council (WEAC), which spent $955 on robocalls,

WEAC Region 7 PAC, which spent $111 on mailings.

The groups that supported Kerr or opposed Underly in the race were:

American Federation for Children, founded by Betsy DeVos, spent $209,000 on online ads and videos,

Rebecca PAC, a new political action committee created by former GOP Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch, spent $5,000 on digital ads.


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