A Shift in the Wisconsin Superintendent Race?

Back in January, the normally sleepy State Suuperintendent race in Wisconsin caught our eye:

The Wisconsin State Journal’s Molly Beck reported yesterday that Mike Grebe is hosting a fundraiser for State Superintendent of Public Instruction candidate John Humphries. Why is this little event so significant? Grebe is the former campaign chairman for Scott Walker, and has maintained close ties to the Governor. Humphries, in previous cycles or races, would have been a persona non grata because he had signed the recall petition against the Governor. Grebe’s willingness to throw his name and support behind Humphries could signal to donors otherwise skeptical to jump in.

A source of mine up in Madison relayed that if this snowballed enough, it could bring in bigger names and groups like Scott Jensen and the American Federation for Children 501c4. The AFC has been a strong advocate for school vouchers, and has spent a considerable amount on races in the state. If they decide to step in, current Superintendent Tony Evers would be in serious trouble.

Now, Mr. Humphries has enjoyed some luck with fundraising, and is expected to post a fundraising haul similar to challenger Lowell Holtz of about $30,000However, that is dwarfed by incumbent Superintendent Tony Evers, who raised over $140,000 in the same period and currently enjoys almost a quarter-of-a-million dollars cash on hand. Further, raising as much as Holtz shows the money he was counting on to come in from the sidelines hasn’t materialized for him. Worse, it means some of the cash has been going to his challenger.

Mr. Holtz has been endorsed by two dozen current and former state legislatures, and now can boast the support of the Wisconsin Family Action PAC:

Dr. Holtz understands that the State Superintendent of Public Instruction and the Department of Public Instruction don’t need to be adversarial to school choice. He rightly believes parents, not the state, are ultimately responsible for the education of their children; and he is therefore rightly supportive of giving parents more options for fulfilling that responsibility. We’ve not had a State Superintendent of Public Instruction with that mindset for decades. This is the election where that needs to change.

Holtz, casting himself as the conservative reformer, has been accumulating support in the Milwaukee suburbs, a Republican stronghold. Sleeper races tend to bring out more committed partisans, so despite having Walker campaign members assisting him, Mr. Humphries may find his middle-of-the-road challenge to Evers sputtering on the shoulder. He has a week to overcome conservative opposition if he is to be the challenger in April.

We will be providing primary results next Tuesday night starting at 9:00pm EST, here at the Decision Desk.