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Rep. Pridemore running for state schools superintendent

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MADISON — Conservative Republican state Rep. Don Pridemore, who supports arresting federal officials attempting to implement the health care overhaul law and has pushed for immigration reform similar to Arizona’s, registered Wednesday to run for state superintendent of schools.

Pridemore said his registration does not necessarily mean he will actually run for the nonpartisan position, but he hoped to make an announcement soon. Incumbent Tony Evers is the only announced candidate for the position to be elected April 2. Candidates can begin circulating nomination papers Saturday and must return at least 2,000 signatures by Jan. 2.

“The status quo is simply not working,” Pridemore said in a statement. “After spending billions of dollars on education in Wisconsin, we have not moved the needle a bit. I believe it’s time for a fresh set of ideas.”

Evers did not immediately return a message seeking comment.

Pridemore, 66, of Hartford, was first elected to the Assembly in 2004. He was unopposed when he was re-elected to a two-year term in November. He would not be required to give up his Assembly seat during the campaign, but he would have to resign if he won.

If more than two candidates run for the four-year term, there would be a Feb. 19 primary.

Pridemore is one of the more conservative members of the state Assembly. Last year, he proposed legislation that would require those arrested or charged with a crime to show proof of citizenship if the police officer who stops them has reasonable suspicion to believe they are not here legally.

The bill, opposed by immigrants’ rights group Voces de le Frontera, went nowhere.

Pridemore also has supported the “constitutional carry” concept, based on the belief that the 2nd Amendment allows people to guns without regulation. He says that means people should be able to carry concealed weapons without getting a permit.

Pridemore was one of nine Republican state lawmakers who earlier this year said they agreed with the positions of the tea party-aligned group Campaign for Liberty which advocates for arresting any federal officials who try to implement the health care law, passing a “right-to-work” law and legalizing the sale of raw milk.

Pridemore was critical of Evers during his first run for Department of Public Instruction secretary in 2009, but he did not get in the race then. Evers, 60, announced earlier this month that he would seek a second term.

Evers said accomplishments during his first term include adoption and implementation of new state standards, the creation of additional dual enrollment opportunities and the creation of a new assessment system to replace the Wisconsin Knowledge and Concepts Exam.

Evers also touted his implementation of a replacement for the federal No Child Left Behind law and creation of a new teacher evaluation system.

Evers worked closely with Republican Gov. Scott Walker on starting new early literacy screening for kindergarten students and creating a new program that applies experience in the private sector toward college course credit.

However, he and Walker were divided over the governor’s proposal last year that effectively ended collective bargaining for teachers and most other public workers. Pridemore supported the bill and has advocated going even further, making Wisconsin a “right to work” state where workers would not be required to pay dues even if they are covered by a union contract.

Walker said Wednesday he assumed there would be other candidates for the position as well, and he did not know if he would make an endorsement.

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