Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Telling endorsements in the State DPI race

Rock 'em sock 'em news in the state DPI race. Rose Fernandez announced an endorsement by State Representative Bob Ziegelbauer (Dem-Manitowoc).

“I am happy to lend my support to Rose Fernandez for DPI Superintendent,” said Ziegelbauer. “She’s been a refreshing voice for change where it's desperately needed and has the priorities that will lead to success.”

Ziegelbauer has served as a Democrat in the Wisconsin State Assembly since 1992. Since 2006, he has also been the Manitowoc County Executive.

His endorsement is further proof that the Fernandez campaign has a geographical and bipartisan appeal that is unique to previous challengers to the WEAC-backed candidates for State Superintendent. In last week’s Primary, Fernandez finished a mere four percentage points behind the WEAC candidate despite being outspent by him and supporters by more than 10:1.

Fernandez won in both Republican and Democrat areas and in urban and rural communities across Wisconsin.

For example, Rose finished first in the cities of Milwaukee and Superior. Also included in the areas won by Fernandez are counties as varied as Waukesha, Marathon, La Crosse and Vilas.

The Fernandez campaign also announced today they have qualified for public financing of their campaign. Her campaign manager, Brian Fraley, sent out this announcement:

“The great news is that the Rose Fernandez campaign has caught fire and has raised $11,645 in qualifying contributions to become eligible for the public financing grant, and we have agreed to the corresponding spending limit of $215,625 We have every confidence that the staff at the GAB will sort through the technical glitches from their system and this information will be easily accessible, soon.

“From February 2nd through Primary Election Day our campaign caught fire. On the ground, we gained 31 percent of the vote, only four points from the leader, in spite of being outspent by the combined WEAC-Evers campaign by a nearly 10:1 margin. Contributions also began to pour in. We raised nearly $10,000 in that period,
which helped us pay for radio advertising, some phone calls and to soup up our website, www.ChangeDPI.com."

The WEAC-endorsed Evers campaign announced an endorsement of their own from Governor Doyle.

"We are fortunate in Wisconsin to have such a strong leader as Tony Evers to be a candidate for this office, who brings deep knowledge, experience and personal commitment to our students, parents and teachers," Doyle declared in a statement released Tuesday afternoon.

"Having worked in public education for 34 years in communities across our state, providing leadership to continually improve our schools, Tony is the clear choice for voters on April 7."

Evers finished first in last Tuesday's five-way primary for the post but faces a determined challenge from virtual schools advocate Rose Fernandez.

In the primary, Evers won 35 percent of the vote to 31 percent for Fernandez, with the remainder of the vote going to college professors Todd Price and Van Mobley and Beloit Schools Superintendent Lowell Holtz.

Evers, who has the endorsement of the state's teachers unions, worked for eight years with outgoing Superintendent of Public Instruction Elizabeth Burmaster, a close Doyle ally.

The governor's endorsement does not come as a complete surprise. His closeness to Burmaster and the state's largest teachers union, the Wisconsin Education Association Council, led observers of the race to expect Doyle would lean toward Evers.

Doyle, you may recall, almost ruined the bipartisan compromise worked out for virtual education last year at the behest of his masters at WEAC. Evers was the point man in the Department of Public Instruction trying to torpedo virtual schools. Two peas in a pod.