- Associated Press - Thursday, February 16, 2017

MADISON, Wis. (AP) - State Superintendent Tony Evers’ campaign on Thursday blasted an alleged deal discussed by his two primary opponents in which one would guarantee the other a high-paying Department of Public Instruction job and vast powers to take over the largest schools in exchange for dropping out of the race.

John Humphries said Wednesday that Lowell Holtz offered him a $150,000 state job, and a driver, if he left the race. He also alleged that Holtz said he would drop out if Humphries would make him the same offer.

The deal also involved giving the candidate who dropped out the authority to take over the Milwaukee, Racine, Kenosha, Madison and Green Bay school districts. The superintendent doesn’t currently have that power and no one in the department earns $150,000 or more. The state superintendent is paid $120,000.

Holtz said they were just discussing a “rough draft” of ideas brought to them by unnamed business leaders and that no deals were made. Humphries said he turned down the deal as “ludicrous.”

Both Holtz and Humphries have refused to say who the business leaders were who allegedly put together the document.

Evers faces Holtz and Humphries in a primary Tuesday, with the two highest vote-getters advancing to the April 4 general election. The race is officially nonpartisan, but Holtz and Humphries are running as more conservative alternatives to Evers, who is backed by Democrats and their allies, including teachers unions.

Evers campaign spokeswoman, Amanda Brink, said voters deserved to know more about what she called a “plot to take over our five largest school districts” before the primary.

“This plan, if implemented, will impact almost 20 percent of the public school kids in Wisconsin, and would strip away parents and community member’s rights to weigh in on their local districts,” Brink said. “This is a massive power grab. It isn’t a conversation that can be simply brushed aside.”

Republican Gov. Scott Walker also weighed in on the dust up, saying he’d never seen anything like it.

“It’s bizarre,” Walker said, according to WITI-TV in Milwaukee.

Also on Thursday, the liberal advocacy group One Wisconsin Now filed a complaint with the state Elections Commission alleging bribery.


Follow Scott Bauer on Twitter at https://twitter.com/sbauerAP and find more of his work at https://bigstory.ap.org/content/scott-bauer

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