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Write-in candidate seeks to shake up superintendent race

MADISON (AP) -- A Racine high school teacher who said Monday he has nothing to lose is mounting a longshot, write-in candidacy for Wisconsin state superintendent, positioning himself as the most liberal of the four candidates in the race.

Rick Melcher said he's fed up with how Gov. Scott Walker and Republican lawmakers have treated public schools in recent years, arguing that incumbent Tony Evers hasn't done enough to fight against cuts in funding. Two other challengers to Evers, former Beloit superintendent Lowell Holtz and education consultant John Humphries, are supporters of the private school voucher program supported by conservatives that has diverted money away from public schools.

Evers, Humphries and Holtz all submitted the required 2,000 signatures by the Jan. 3 filing deadline. But Melcher said he didn't enlist enough help from family and friends to get that many and came up with only about 1,000. That's why he's running as a write-in candidate, he said.

Holtz is retired and Humphries quit his full-time job as an administrator with the Dodgeville district so he could focus on the race. But Melcher said he can't afford to take a leave of absence, so he will campaign at night and during weekends while continuing to teach high school math in Racine. He's been a teacher for 25 years.

Melcher said he will participate in a pair of upcoming candidate forums, including one Sunday in Madison, and see if financial support follows. Melcher said he's frustrated and "not afraid to speak out."

"I understand I probably have a snowball's chance in hell of getting through the primary, but I'm not going to go quietly into that good night," he said.

The top two vote-getters in the Feb. 21 primary will advance to face each other in the April 4 primary.

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