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Wednesday, December 24, 2014 |  Madison, WI: 35.0° F  Overcast
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Spring 2013 primary races in Madison promise to generate heat
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Manski (left) and Mertz waste no time tearing into each other.
Manski (left) and Mertz waste no time tearing into each other.

After writing about the school board primary, Amy Barrilleaux tweeted: "Who knew covering the education beat would be so dramatic!"

Indeed. Barrilleaux talked to both Sarah Manski and TJ Mertz Tuesday night right after Manski emerged the top vote-getter, finishing 14 points ahead of Mertz with 8,451 votes. Ananda Mirilli came in third, with 22% of the vote.

According to Barrilleaux, "Just hours after Tuesday's primary, Sarah Manski and TJ Mertz were already leveling accusations about experience and integrity in what is becoming the most contentious race for Madison school board this year."

Among the allegations:

Mertz: "She doesn't know what the school board does."

Manski: "It's one thing to be a blogger and a critic. It's quite another to be a leader."

Manski and Mertz will meet again on April 2 for the general election. Two other school board seats will also be up for grabs then. Legislative aide Greg Packnett is trying to unseat school board president James Howard. And retired police officer Wayne Strong is running against Dean Loumos, head of the nonprofit Housing Initiatives.

Mike Basford, chair of the Democratic Party of Dane County, told Isthmus Tuesday night that he expects many of the races for school board and Common Council will present tough endorsement decisions for the party.

All of the candidates in the three primary races for Common Council, noted reporter Joe Tarr, lean to the left side of the political spectrum, and several have either new or longstanding ties with the Democratic Party.

Primary winners Tuesday night were Bryan Post and Ledell Zellers in District 2; incumbent Sue Ellingson and Zach Madden in District 13; and David Ahrens and Hawk Sullivan in District 15. In all, 12 Common Council races will be on the ballot this spring.

It remains to be seen whether the Wisconsin Supreme Court race will generate the kind of heat expected in these local races.

Marquette University law professor Ed Fallone did predictably well in Dane County Tuesday night, but Justice Pat Roggensack took a commanding lead statewide, pulling in 64% of the vote. Lemon law attorney Vince Megna took 6% of the vote statewide.

Roggensack also has an imposing fundraising advantage at the moment - more than 2-to-1. Whether the race becomes more competitive will depend in part on whether Democratic groups jump in to shore up Fallone and Republican groups do the same for Roggensack, says UW-La Crosse political science professor Joe Heim.

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