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Schools Superintendent candidate Deborah Kerr's campaign manager and legal counsel quit

Schools Superintendent candidate Deborah Kerr's campaign manager and legal counsel quit

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A campaign manager who has continually worked for Democrats and an attorney who has worked often worked with Gov. Tony Evers have both quit Deborah Kerr’s campaign for state superintendent.

The campaign manager, Brandon Savage, said in an email that he resigned Thursday.

“Based on the state of the race, my expertise would not be of any benefit for her moving forward. The campaign will require a different strategy — one that I cannot provide,” wrote Savage, who describes himself as a Democratic strategist. “I’m very pleased with having gotten the campaign to the point of winning the primary election in a seven-way race. But moving forward there will be a different team focused on April.”

Michael Maistelman, who was acting as legal counsel for Kerr, quit Friday. Maistelman has represented Gov. Tony Evers in a number of different roles since 2009.

Kerr, a Caledonia resident who previously was the Brown Deer School District’s superintendent, says she is a Democrat who voted for Joe Biden, although she is backed by Republicans including former Gov. Scott Walker.

Kerr had aimed to portray herself as a more moderate choice in a race without a Republican option by expressing support for private-school vouchers.

She ended up being the leader in campaign fundraising out of the seven candidates in the superintendent primary. Part of that was thanks to a $15,000 campaign donation from Arthur Dantchik, a conservative megadonor from Pennsylvania who supports school vouchers. Other donors to her campaign include Democratic former state Rep. Jason Fields and the GOP-backing group Friends of Alberta Darling. Darling is a GOP state senator from River Hills.

Hours before polls closed in the primary election Tuesday, Kerr, who is white, caused a stir and became the target of criticism when she replied to a tweet that asked “When was the first time someone called you the N-word,” by saying, “I was 16 in high school and white — my lips were bigger than most and that was the reference given to me.” Within a day, she deleted her Twitter account and apologized.

Earlier in the campaign, the only Black candidate in the state superintendent race, Shandowlyon Hendricks-Williams, accused Kerr of a “racially motivated” attack when she tried to have Hendricks-Williams kicked off the ballot. Kerr filed a complaint saying Hendricks-Williams submitted invalid nomination papers. The Wisconsin Elections Commission deadlocked, and Hendricks-Williams remained on the ballot.

Kerr placed second in Tuesday’s primary, thus advancing to the April 6 general election against Pecatonica School District Superintendent Jill Underly, who is a Democrat, has been critical of the voucher program and is supported by the Wisconsin State Education Association union.

The Associated Press and Lee Newspapers contributed to this report.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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