Jill Underly wins Wisconsin’s Superintendent of Public Instruction election

Jill Underly defeated Deborah Kerr in the nonpartisan election for Wisconsin Superintendent of Public Instruction on Apr. 6. Decision Desk HQ called the race at 9:15 p.m. CT, and the Associated Press called the race at 9:30 p.m. CT. With 67% of precincts reporting, Underly led with 57% of the vote to Kerr’s 43%.

Kerr and Underly had advanced to the general election with 26.5% and 27.3% of the Feb. 16 primary vote, respectively. Incumbent Carolyn Stanford Taylor, who was appointed in 2019 by the state’s current governor and former Superintendent Tony Evers (D), announced in January 2020 that she would not run for a full term.

Though the race was officially nonpartisan, both candidates were affiliated with the Democratic Party. Underly was endorsed by two former Wisconsin state superintendents, four Democratic members of Congress, and 29 Democratic members of the Wisconsin State Legislature. In her own words, Kerr she was a “pragmatic Democrat with conservative values.” She received endorsements from state Senators Alberta Darling (R) and Lena Taylor (D).

Re-implementing in-person schooling in response to the coronavirus and the allocation of school funding were central issues in the race, according to the Associated Press. Kerr said her plan would have school reopenings be mandatory across the state, and Underly said her plan for reopenings would have local school districts decide when they reopen. In regards to school funding, Kerr supported the public funding of school vouchers and charter schools, while Underly opposed the public funding of school vouchers and charter schools.