• WisPolitics


Tuesday, February 17, 2009

 11:02 PM 

Fernandez takes swipe at Evers

Virtual school advocate Rose Fernandez wasted no time tonight in getting her campaign going against Deputy Superintendent Tony Evers, accusing him of watching Milwaukee Public Schools fail for the past eight years and being afraid of innovation during his time in office.

With 97 percent of the vote in, Evers had 35 percent, of 88,297 votes, while Fernandez had 31 percent, or 78,308 votes.

Fernandez said voters will have a clear choice in the April 7 general election in who they select to be the next superintendent of Public Instruction, casting herself as an outsider and reformer.

"He has experience doing everything that WEAC tells him to do," Fernandez said.

Evers said he wouldn't be "dragged in the mud" and pledged to provide a positive message through the course of the campaign, including a focus on his 34 years of experience in education from the local level through DPI.

"That's the first step," Evers said of tonight's win. "We expect we'll gear up even more and carry our message across the state."

The two ran very different campaigns in the weeks leading up to the primary.

Evers raised $74,004 through Feb. 2 and then reported another $22,125 in late contributions in the week leading up to the primary.

He was the only candidate to run a TV ad leading up to the primary, and he had the backing of the Wisconsin Education Association Council, which also ran TV ads on his behalf.

The bulk of the money Evers raised came from political action committees, particularly education groups.

Meanwhile, Fernandez had reported raising less than $3,500 for her campaign through the pre-primary period. But she loaned her campaign $4,000 last week and received $3,500 in late contributions, according to a report filed with the Government Accountability Board.

George Mitchell, an adviser to School Choice Wisconsin, gave her $1,000, while Mike Cudahy of Milwaukee, co-founder of the former Marquette Electronics and a philanthropist, gave her $2,500.

That enabled her to do a small radio buy in the Milwaukee area. She relied mainly on the grassroots connections she made in past work lobbying for virtual schools as well as the praise from conservative Milwaukee talk show hosts.

Concordia professor Van Mobley was in third place in unofficial returns with 14 percent, or 34,312 votes, while National-Louis University associate professor Todd Price had 11 percent, or 28,349, and Beloit Superintendent Lowell Holtz had 9 percent, or 21,948 votes.


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