MADISON — The field of candidates running for superintendent of Wisconsin's public schools will be narrowed in Tuesday's primary, with incumbent Tony Evers facing two challengers who have been sidetracked trying to explain allegations that they discussed working together to beat him.
Consultant John Humphries and former Beloit Superintendent Lowell Holtz are challenging Evers, with the two highest vote-getters in the primary advancing to the April 4 general election. Long-shot write-in candidate Rick Melcher is also running.
Humphries shook up the race last week by making public a document he said shows Holtz had offered him a deal for a $150,000 state job and broad control over the largest school districts if he dropped out of the race. Humphries said the deal also applied if Holtz dropped out.
Holtz has said there was no offer and he was just discussing ideas brought forward by other unnamed business people.
The dispute enlivened an otherwise sleepy race. The state Elections Commission broke with tradition and didn't make a turnout prediction, although turnout for primaries in the past three state superintendent races has averaged at less than 6 percent.
Evers is a two-term incumbent who is backed by Democrats and public school advocates. He opposes expansion of the private school voucher program, supports the Common Core curriculum and argues for increasing funding to help struggling schools, particularly in urban areas.
Humphries and Holtz are school choice backers who want to overturn Common Core. Humphries has called for creation of a state school board, which Holtz and Evers oppose. Humphries also wants to overhaul the state report card and create a way for low-performing schools to be reorganized into charter or private voucher schools.
Holtz is calling for better discipline in schools to make classrooms more safe and secure. He also wants to increase local control and empower teachers.