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Mary Burke

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Mary Burke
Mary Burke.jpg
Board member, Madison Board of Education, Seat 2
In office
April 2012 - Present
Term ends
April 2015
Years in position 3
Elections and appointments
Last electionNovember 4, 2014
First electedApril 2012
Next generalApril 7, 2015
Term limitsN/A
Prior offices
Wisconsin Commerce Secretary
2005 - 2007
Office website
Mary Burke campaign logo
Mary Burke is the Seat 2 representative for the Madison Metropolitan School District Board of Education in Wisconsin. She was first elected to the office in April 2012. She is running for re-election unopposed in the general election on April 7, 2015.

Burke was a Democratic candidate for Governor of Wisconsin in the 2014 elections.[1] She was the first female gubernatorial nominee for either major party in Wisconsin.[2] Mary Burke lost the general election on November 4, 2014.


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Burke is a former executive of Trek Bicycle, a company founded by her father in 1976. Burke left Trek in 2005 after being named as Secretary of the Commerce Department by Gov. Jim Doyle (D).[3]



See also: Madison Metropolitan School District elections (2015)


Seats 1 and 2 on the Madison Board of Education are up for election on April 7, 2015. However, only one candidate filed for each race. Seat 1 incumbent Arlene Silveira did not file to seek re-election. Anna Moffit is running unopposed for the open seat. Seat 2 incumbent Mary Burke is also unopposed for her re-election bid.


This election will be held on April 7, 2015.


Burke had not received any official endorsements in this election as of February 4, 2015.


Burke reported no contributions or expenditures to the Madison City Clerk as of February 4, 2015, which left her campaign with $358.17 on hand from her previous campaign.[4]


See also: Wisconsin gubernatorial election, 2014

Burke ran for election as Governor of Wisconsin in 2014.[5] Burke won the Democratic nomination in the primary on August 12. The general election took place November 4, 2014.


Primary results
Wisconsin Gubernatorial Democratic Primary, 2014
Candidate Vote % Votes
Green check mark transparent.pngMary Burke 83.4% 259,926
Brett Hulsey 16.6% 51,830
Total Votes 311,756
Election Results via Wisconsin Government Accountability Board.
General election
Governor and Lieutenant Governor of Wisconsin, 2014
Party Candidate Vote % Votes
     Republican Green check mark transparent.pngScott Walker/Rebecca Kleefisch Incumbent 52.3% 1,259,706
     Democrat Mary Burke/John Lehman 46.6% 1,122,913
     Libertarian Robert Burke/Joseph Brost 0.8% 18,720
     Independent Dennis Fehr 0.3% 7,530
     Nonpartisan Scattering 0.1% 1,248
     Nonpartisan Write-in votes 0% 200
Total Votes 2,410,317
Election Results via Wisconsin Government Accountability Board.

Race background

This was incumbent Governor Scott Walker's third election in four years. He first won in the 2010 elections and he faced a high-profile recall election in 2012. Walker, a Republican, defeated the same Democratic opponent, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, by a similar margin in both elections. This year, Walker's main Democratic challenger was Mary Burke, a former business executive and current member of the school board in Madison, Wisconsin.

2012 recall
See also: Scott Walker recall, Wisconsin (2012)

Democrats targeted Walker for recall due to his efforts to limit the collective bargaining rights of public employee unions through Wisconsin Assembly Bill 11, the "Scott Walker Budget Repair Bill", which the governor introduced in February 2011. The bill was immediately met with wide-scale protests. While the passions of the 2012 recall and of the 2010 election, an election that saw Republicans win control of the House of Representatives and many other offices across the country, may not be as strong this year, the underlying issues still exist and Governor Walker remains a divisive figure.[6] Walker is the only governor to have survived a recall and only the third governor to face a recall election in US history.[7]

Common Core
See also: Common Core State Standards Initiative

In addition to the ongoing issues that fueled the protests and subsequent failed recall, the issue of Common Core surfaced in this race. Walker, a former supporter of the education standards, began to back away from his stance and sought to change how Common Core is implemented in Wisconsin.[8] Burke publicly supported Common Core.[9]

State of the race

Polling as of October 2014 indicated a close race with few undecided voters, driven by the highly charged political atmosphere and almost continuous campaigning caused by the recall. The race hinged on which candidate was better able to motivate their voters to go to the polls, rather than appealing to the few voters still undecided. As of July 2014, The Cook Political Report rated this race as a "toss-up."[10]

Libertarian Robert Burke and Peoples Party candidate Dennis Fehr were identified as potential variables in this toss-up race, though their vote total did not contribute to the outcome of the race. Robert Burke, a "socially liberal" former Republican, said that he "...can mess things up for both sides."[11][12][13] Fehr is the founder and sole candidate of the Peoples Party, not to be confused with the People's Party.[14]

Primary races

Both Walker and Mary Burke faced primary challengers but won comfortably for their respective parties' nominations. Walker's only opponent, Steve Evans, ran as a write-in candidate, while Burke was endorsed by the Wisconsin Democratic Party's Administrative Committee over her opponent, State Assemblyman Brett Hulsey.[15]


Debate media

October 10 debate

October 17 debate
October 17 debate

The second debate between Mary Burke (D) and Scott Walker (R) centered on the state economy as both candidates jousted for position as the best candidate for Wisconsin voters. Burke hammered away at the Republican governor for failing to create 250,000 jobs in his first term as he pledged during his 2010 campaign. She also blamed Walker and Republican legislators for a projected budget shortfall of $1.8 billion. Walker countered that his administration helped generate 100,000 new jobs and $2 billion in tax cuts since 2011. He also argued that Burke's economic plan used word-for-word passages from the plans of other Democratic candidates, an issue at the heart of recent pro-Walker TV ads.[16]

October 10 debate

Burke and Walker discussed the minimum wage, economic policy and abortion during a debate hosted by the Wisconsin Broadcasters Association. Gov. Walker initially evaded a question about raising the minimum wage from $7.25 per hour, though he eventually responded that state officials should push to create jobs that earn more than minimum wage. Burke countered that Walker's argument was unrealistic as "retail and home health" workers would not be able to shift easily to industrial jobs. Walker argued that Wisconsin families experienced an average tax reduction of $322 in 2014, while Burke suggested that Walker should not be elected again because the state has a projected budget shortfall.[17]

Gov. Walker did not respond directly to a question whether he opposed abortion in cases of rape, noting that the Supreme Court resolved the question in Roe v. Wade. Burke echoed an ad campaign by Planned Parenthood prior to the general election, arguing that the governor's position on abortion is "anything but reasonable."[17]



Governor of Wisconsin, General election from August 2014
Poll Scott Walker * (R) Mary Burke (D)Undecided/OtherMargin of ErrorSample Size
Rasmussen Reports
August13-14, 2014
Marquette Law School Poll
August 21-24, 2014
August 18-September 2, 2014
We Ask America
September 3, 2014
Marquette University Law School
September 11-14, 2014
Rasmussen Reports
September 15-16, 2014
New York Times/CBS News/YouGov
September 20-October 1, 2014
Marquette University Law School
October 9-12, 2014
WPR/St. Norbert College
October 19-21, 2014
Rasmussen Reports
October 20-21, 2014
New York Times/CBS News/YouGov
October 16-23, 2014
Marquette University Law School
October 23-26, 2014
Public Policy Polling
(October 28-30, 2014)
AVERAGES 47.62% 46.69% 5.38% +/-3.26 1,222.77
Note: The polls above may not reflect all polls that have been conducted in this race. Those displayed are a random sampling chosen by Ballotpedia staff. If you would like to nominate another poll for inclusion in the table, send an email to
Governor of Wisconsin, General election through July 2014
Poll Scott Walker (R) Mary Burke (D)Undecided/OtherMargin of ErrorSample Size
Marquette University Law School Poll
October 21-24, 2013
Rasmussen Reports
March 10-11, 2014
Marquette University Law School Poll
March 20-23, 2014
St. Norbert College Strategic Research Institute
March 24 - April 3, 2014
Magellan Strategies for the Liberty Foundation of America
April 14-15,2014
Public Policy Polling
April 17-20, 2014
Marquette University Law School Poll
May 15-18, 2014
Marquette University Law School Poll
July 17-20, 2014
Gravis Marketing
July 31-August 3, 2014
AVERAGES 47.68% 44.54% 7.39% +/-3.64 828
Note: The polls above may not reflect all polls that have been conducted in this race. Those displayed are a random sampling chosen by Ballotpedia staff. If you would like to nominate another poll for inclusion in the table, send an email to

Note: An asterisk (*) denotes incumbent status.

Campaign media

Mary Burke for Wisconsin campaign announcement


Madison Metropolitan School District, Seat 2 General Election, 3-year term, 2012
Party Candidate Vote % Votes
     Nonpartisan Mary Burke 60.4% 26,725
     Nonpartisan Michael Flores 39.3% 17,417
     Nonpartisan Write-in votes 0.3% 122
Total Votes 44,264
Source: Dane County Clerk, "2012 Spring Election Results from Official Canvass," April 10, 2012

What's at stake?


Issues in the district

Superintendents write to state government over proposed budget cuts

Madison Metropolitan Superintendent Jen Cheatham signed a letter with 18 other superintendents across the state, asking the Governor of Wisconsin and the State Legislature for a consistent funding plan. The letter was written in February 2015 in response to the budget proposed by Gov. Scott Walker (R) earlier in the year that called for a reduction in per-student funding by $150 for the 2015-2016 school year and an addition of $165 per student for the 2016-2017 school year.[21]

In the letter, the superintendents discussed their concerns that such a budget cut would require cutting staff, salaries or benefits in order for their districts to stay afloat, which they worried would make it nearly impossible to retain talented teachers. They said they believed inflationary growth was necessary to maintain and grow their educational programs.[21]

Walker's call to change the state's assessment system and allow districts to choose their own assessments from a state-approved list was also mentioned in the superintendent's letter. They asked the state government for one assessment system, saying an accountability system consisting of different assessments would create confusion.[21] The full letter can be found here.

$41 million referendum goes to ballot

Residents of Madison, Wisconsin will be asked to approve a $41 million referendum in the school board elections on April 7, 2015. The Madison Metropolitan Board of Education approved the referendum question on December 15, 2014. If approved, the majority of the money, $39 million, would be used for additions and improved accessibility renovations for over a dozen schools. The remaining $2 million would be used for improving technology. The cost of the referendum would raise homeowners' taxes by approximately $63.[22][23]

Validity of contracts questioned after Act 10 ruling

The Madison Metropolitan School District and Madison Teachers Inc., the district's teachers union, said their labor contracts are valid through June 2016, despite the fact that the Wisconsin Supreme Court upheld Act 10, a collective bargaining bill that cut back the bargaining rights of public employees, on July 31, 2014. According to Rick Esenberg, founder and general counsel of the Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty, however, those contracts could be questioned in court, as any contract containing provisions barred under Act 10 could be seen as illegal. Though Act 10 allows only bargaining for pay increases, the district's labor contracts through 2016 also included workplace policies, such as job transfers and paycheck withholding.[24][25]

Legal counsel to the Madison Metropolitan Board of Education was at odds with Esenberg, advising that the contracts would remain valid no matter the court's ruling on Act 10 as they were entered into before Act 10 became effective.[25]

The dispute will have to be settled in court as the Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty, on behalf of Madison resident David Blaska, filed a lawsuit against the district on September 11, 2014. The lawsuit claims taxpayer money was illegally spent in different parts of the district's employee contracts. Marcia Standiford, communications director for the district, says the district administration believes it was on solid ground when the contracts were negotiated.[26]

In October 2014, district officials and union leaders asked the Dane County Circuit Court to strike out portions of the lawsuit that referred to union dues and fair share payments, as Blaska was not a teacher or employee of the district. According to district officials, that meant he had no factual standing to make those specific allegations in the lawsuit.[27]

Debate over Tech Plan

Rival community groups in Madison debated the virtues of the district's five-year Tech Plan proposal during school board meetings in January 2014. The $31 million Tech Plan proposed incorporating enough computers into area schools to ensure one-on-one instruction, which would increase annual expenses from $1.5 million during the 2013-2014 school year to $8.4 million during the 2018-2019 school year.[28]

The School-Community Alliance for Public Education (SCAPE) advocated for a more thorough review of the program by the board. SCAPE believed that the annual cost of the Tech Plan deserved greater scrutiny by district residents. The group also suggested that one-on-one computing might not be valuable enough for K-3 students to warrant higher expenses.[28]

The Leopold Parent-Faculty Organization supported implementation of the Tech Plan based on their own experiences with one-on-one computing. The organization raised private funds to purchase iPads and other technology for students in south side schools. Organizers noted the broad popularity of this initial investment and expressed concern about the district's outdated technology infrastructure.[28]

The school board pre-approved the Tech Plan on April 28, 2014.[29]

About the district

See also: Madison Metropolitan School District, Wisconsin
Madison Metropolitan School District is located in Madison, Wis.
Madison Metropolitan School District is located in Madison in south-central Wisconsin. Madison is the county seat of Dane County and the capital of Wisconsin. In 2013, Madison was home to approximately 240,323 residents according to estimates by the United States Census Bureau.[30] During the 2011-2012 school year, Madison Metropolitan School District was the second-largest school district in Wisconsin and served 26,817 students.[31]


Madison outperformed the rest of Wisconsin in terms of higher education achievement in 2012. The United States Census Bureau found that 53.3 percent of Madison residents aged 25 years and older had attained a bachelor's degree compared to 26.4 percent for Wisconsin as a whole. From 2008 through 2012, the median household income in Madison was $53,958, compared to $52,627 for the state of Wisconsin. The poverty rate in Madison was 18.5 percent from 2008 through 2012. During that same time period, the poverty rate for the entire state was 12.5 percent.[30]

Racial Demographics, 2010[30]
Race Madison (%) Wisconsin (%)
White 78.9 86.2
Black or African American 7.3 6.3
American Indian and Alaska Native 0.4 1.0
Asian 7.4 2.3
Two or More Races 3.1 1.8
Hispanic or Latino 6.8 5.9

Presidential votes, 2000-2012[32]
Year Democratic vote (%) Republican vote (%)
2012 61.1 32.5
2008 66.0 32.9
2004 72.8 25.8
2000 71.0 27.5

Note: The United States Census Bureau considers "Hispanic or Latino" to be a place of origin, not a race. Therefore, the Census allows citizens to report both their race and that they are from a "Hispanic or Latino" place of origin simultaneously. As a result, the percentages in each column of the racial demographics table will exceed 100 percent. Each column will add up to 100 percent after removing the "Hispanic or Latino" place of origin percentages, although rounding by the Census Bureau may make the total one or two tenths off from being exactly 100 percent.[33] This Ballotpedia page provides a more detailed explanation of how the Census Bureau handles race and ethnicity in its surveys.

Recent news

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Mary Burke News Feed

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See also

External links

Suggest a link


  1. Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Democrats quietly help Mary Burke explore possible gubernatorial bid," July 24, 2013
  2. Wisconsin State Journal, "Mary Burke makes state history as first female major party gubernatorial nominee," August 13, 2014
  3. Superior Telegram, "Businesswoman Mary Burke enters governor's race," October 7, 2013
  4. City of Madison: Office of the City Clerk, "Campaign Finance: Madison Metropolitan School District," February 4, 2015
  5. Huffington Post, "Mary Burke Announces Candidacy For Governor In Wisconsin (VIDEO)," October 7, 2013
  6. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Race tightens, with Scott Walker, Mary Burke tied among registered voters," May 21, 2014
  7. The Guardian, "Wisconsin governor Scott Walker survives bitterly fought recall election," June 6, 2012
  8. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Gov. Scott Walker calls for Legislature to repeal Common Core standards," July 17, 2014
  9. WKOW Madison, "Burke supports sticking with Common Core in WI," July 19, 2014
  10. The Cook Political Report, "2014 GOVERNORS RACE RATINGS FOR JULY 30, 2014," accessed July 31, 2014
  11. Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, "Two Burkes on ballot for governor," July 11, 2014
  12. The Cap Times, "John Nichols: Libertarians give Wisconsin another option," July 1, 2014
  13. Wausau Daily Herald, "Letter: More than two are running for governor," July 16, 2014
  14. Dennis Fehr for Governor, "About our Candidate," accessed July 9, 2014
  15. Democratic Party of Wisconsin, "Candidates," accessed July 31, 2014
  16. Associated Press, "Debate: Gov. Scott Walker, Mary Burke disagree on Wisconsin's economy," October 17, 2014
  17. 17.0 17.1 WKOW, "Walker, Burke spar in first gubernatorial debate," October 10, 2014
  18. Huffington Post, "Russ Feingold Group Jumps Into Fight To Defeat Scott Walker," October 22, 2013
  19. Politico, "EMILY’s List to back Mary Burke in Wisconsin," accessed October 24, 2013
  20. Planned Parenthood Advocates of Wisconsin, " Endorsed candidates," accessed November 7, 2013
  21. 21.0 21.1 21.2 NBC 15, "Superintendents send letter to lawmakers over budget concerns," February 18, 2015
  22. WKOW, "$41M referendum question up for vote in Madison Metropolitan School District," December 16, 2014
  23. Madison Metropolitan School District, "Referendum on School Facilities," accessed January 19, 2015
  24., "Madison teachers' union leader: Act 10 ruling ‘morally bankrupt,’" July 31, 2014
  25. 25.0 25.1 The Cap Times, "Madison school district, teachers union say labor contracts still valid after Act 10 ruling," August 1, 2014
  26. The Badger Herald, "Madison School District faces collective bargaining lawsuit," September 15, 2014
  27. The Cap Times, "Madison school officials, MTI say claims regarding union dues, teachers' rights don't belong in Act 10 lawsuit," October 9, 2014
  28. 28.0 28.1 28.2, "Parents ask what's the rush on Madison schools' $31 million tech plan," January 22, 2014
  29., "UPDATED: MMSD Board pre-approves budget items/technology plan," May 19, 2014
  30. 30.0 30.1 30.2 United States Census Bureau, "Madison, Wisconsin," accessed January 27, 2014
  31. National Center for Education Statistics, "ELSI Table Generator," accessed January 27, 2014
  32. Dane County Clerk's Office, "Election Results," accessed January 27, 2014
  33. United States Census Bureau, "Frequently Asked Questions," accessed April 21, 2014