Wisconsin Presidential Primary As A Movable Feast

The Wisconsin Legislature is meeting in a lame duck session ostensibly to wrap up work on a bill to provide tax breaks and support to Kimberly-Clark to keep one of their Wisconsin plants open. Apparently there aren’t enough votes in the Senate to pass the K-C bill, so the GOP needs to find other things to hold their attention. So instead they will attack Governor-elect Tony Evers by limiting gubernatorial powers…powers they granted Governor Scott Walker…

OR move the 2020 Wisconsin Presidential Primary. Rather than include it with the municipal/local general elections in April 2020, they’d like to hold it in March 2020, halfway between the April general and the February local primaries. Why the hell would they do that?

Well initially the reasoning was it would be confusing to the electorate to have a partisan presidential primary on the same ballot as non-partisan municipal and local elections. What a bunch of hogwash. We’ve been using the combined ballots/elections for decades and I don’t recall any consternation on the part of Wisconsin voters.

This suggestion raised the ire of about 34 county clerks who said they didn’t have the manpower or the money to run three elections over three months. Estimates to run the separate presidential primary have run as high as seven million dollars. hikes! Particularly given that the GOP didn’t want to run special elections a while back when the governor promoted a number of legislators to executive positions in state government…because? It would cost too much money and be a burden on the counties and municipalities of the state. hypocrites to the nth degree! But to top that off, the county clerks also suggested that a separate election would cause actual confusion for those using absentee ballots since their use would be overlapping. hmmmm.

Aah…but several people sussed out the real reason for the proposed move and Wisconsin Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald blatantly put it out there:

Republicans have talked about moving the presidential primary because Justice Daniel Kelly is slated to appear on the same ballot in the Supreme Court race and Democratic turnout could be high.

Asked about the upside of moving the primary, Fitzgerald said, “I think there’s many people that think that Justice Kelly would have a better chance if there’s not really this competitive Democrat primary for president. That’s the concern, I think. But I’ve got to be honest with you, I think the campaign would be just as concerned that that would be a criticism used against Kelly in the end.”

[Justice Daniel Kelly was appointed by Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker to fill the unexpired term of David Prosser, Jr.]

So here’s a shout out to Governor Walker and Senator Fitzgerald. If you think that a Wisconsin Supreme Court judge can’t stand up to the scrutiny of the electorate on election day, you shouldn’t appoint them to the court in the first place!

My position…leave the presidential primary alone. This new low in partisan thinking is beneath even the Wisconsin GOP…or so I thought before now.

btw: a quick quote from the Dems:

Sen. Jon Erpenbach (D-Middleton) expressed surprise at Fitzgerald’s open talk of moving the primary only to help Kelly.

“We all knew this, but to hear it that bluntly is shocking,” Erpenbach said.



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