By SCOTT BAUER
MADISON, Wis. (AP) — A new attack ad released on Thursday by Democrats hoping to influence the state’s governor’s race accuses Gov. Scott Walker of failing to do enough in his first two terms to deal with deteriorating roads, failing schools and rising health-care costs.
Allies of the Republican governor hit back with an ad criticizing the Democratic nominee for governor, state Superintendent of Schools Tony Evers, for his supposed tolerance of sexual misconduct among teachers.
In the week since Evers’ primary win, the tight race for governor has largely been about two questions: whether Evers, as state superintendent, has failed to act aggressively enough in cases involving teacher misconduct and whether Walker has done enough in the past eight years to improve the quality of Wisconsin’s roads, schools and health care.
A Marquette University Law School poll released on Wednesday showed the race to be a dead heat.
The Wisconsin Republican Party ad released references three teacher-discipline cases. One involved a female teacher at Beloit Turner High School who was accused of sending sexually explicit Snapchat messages to a male student.
The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports the case is complex. An attorney for the state Department of Public Instruction, which Evers oversees, initially said there was “substantial reason” to find the teacher had engaged in “immoral conduct.”
But none of the Snapchat messages in question could be recovered and the student declined to testify against the teacher. Beloit police officials dismissed the case after citing a lack of evidence.
After the case was closed, the teacher worked for a year in Janesville but has since left the profession.
Alec Zimmerman, a spokesman for the Republican party, said Evers is to blame.
“Faced with an overwhelming amount of evidence that these individuals were unfit to be in a classroom with students, Evers still abandoned our children and allowed them to remain licensed teachers,” Zimmerman said.
Evers’ campaign manager, Maggie Gau, called the ad, which at one point depicts a teacher unbuckling his belt, “disgusting and dishonest.”
“Since he cannot run on his own failed record, Walker and his special interest allies will do everything in their power to distract from his eight years of abandoning our kids, our roads, and our public safety,” she said.
Meanwhile a new spot announced on Thursday from A Stronger Wisconsin, which is aligned with the Democratic Governors Association, accuses Walker of failing to deal with teacher shortages, rising health-care costs and deteriorating roads over the past eight years before going on to argue that”he’s not changing now.”
Walker has been content so far to let the state party attack Evers while he himself runs more than $2 million worth of ads portraying himself and his policies in a good light. In April, after the conservative-backed candidate lost the state Supreme Court race, Walker urged his supporters to remain optimistic.
“The Far Left is driven by anger & hatred — we must counter it with optimism & organization,” Walker tweeted then. “Let’s share our positive story with voters & win in November.”
Walker defended himself on Thursday.
“Elections are about vision for the future. But they are also about record,” he tweeted . “Discussing Tony Evers’ troubling record of not revoking the licenses of fired teachers with questionable backgrounds is a legitimate issue. And an epic fail.”