Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mary Burke launched a new, more detailed website Tuesday with one notable omission: her only experience in elective office, as a Madison School Board member.
But after the State Journal inquired about it, the campaign said it would update the site to include her role on the board.
A campaign spokesman called the omission an “oversight.” However, the website in several places downplays Burke’s ties to the city where she lives.
The website focuses on Burke’s experience as a top executive at Waterloo-based Trek Bicycle, which her father founded, and her time as Commerce secretary in the Gov. Jim Doyle administration.
Burke, the only Democrat so far who announced plans to run against Gov. Scott Walker next fall, launched
burkeforwisconsin.com in October with a video announcement and ways for supporters to provide an email and donate to the campaign.
The website was updated Tuesday with a six-paragraph biography and a page with position statements in six categories — jobs, education, health care, fiscal responsibility, individual freedoms and natural resources.
At the launch Tuesday, the website included no mention of her role on the School Board, to which she was elected in spring 2012.
Burke was the only member of the board to vote against Superintendent Jennifer Cheatham’s first annual budget, saying it didn’t do enough to balance increased taxes with accountability for current spending levels.
Charles Franklin, a Marquette Law School professor and expert on state politics, said he was surprised the website didn’t mention her school board experience.
“It seems odd not to mention the school board because that’s as public a public record about her background as there is,” Franklin said. “I would think her campaign would want to talk about why it’s a good thing.”
Republicans have tried to cast Burke as an out-of-touch Madison liberal multimillionaire, and Walker has frequently used Madison’s leftist leanings as a political punching bag around the state. Franklin said he doesn’t know whether that tactic of tying Burke to liberal Madison will be a winning strategy.
In Burke’s original campaign announcement, the only time she mentioned the state’s capital city by name was to compare it to the nation’s capital.
“We’ve got to make some real changes in Madison,” she said in the video. “Just like Washington, our state Capitol has become so focused on politics and winning the next political fight, it’s pulling our state apart and our economy down.”
Also, the education section of the website noted Burke’s work helping start a widely acclaimed college achievement program, but didn’t specify where.
“As co-founder of the AVID/TOPS program, a public-private partnership that is narrowing the achievement gap for low-income students, Mary knows that every Wisconsin student prepared to work hard can realize their dreams if given the support they need,” the site stated. “By bringing together area high schools, the Boys & Girls Club, technical colleges, businesses and the university, Mary made a real difference for students, many of whom are the first in their family to attend college.”
The AVID/TOPS program is primarily a partnership between the Madison School District and the Boys & Girls Club of Dane County.