Republican legislative leaders have plans to move the date of the state’s presidential primary to March, to separate it from nonpartisan state and local elections. Under current law, that primary occurs in April. Assembly Speaker Robin Vos is advocating for the change in 2020.
“We used to have a separate presidential primary. Vos told WFAW. “We made a decision to put it together. I think that was a mistake for a number of reasons.”
If the dates remain as is, conservative state Supreme Court Justice Daniel Kelly, who will be on the ballot, could be swamped by high Democratic turnout in a 2020 presidential primary. Kelly was appointed by Republican Governor Scott Walker in 2016, to serve the unexpired term of conservative Justice David Prosser.
“That’s the issue the Democrats are bringing up,” Vos said “It’s about everybody running for every office. Either we believe in having a non-partisan system where on that ballot people do not run as a Republican or a Democrat, or we believe in having a partisan system 24-7.” State Supreme Court elections are officially non-partisan.
Vos’ talking points were similar to those offered Sunday by state Senator Alberta Darling (R-River Hills) on WISN’s “UpFront with Mike Gousha.” Darling said Republicans “don’t think it’s appropriate,” for the presidential primary to be on the same ballot as local races.
“A lot of people would agree with that,” Darling said, although she did not elaborate on who those people might be.
Along with Democrats, county and municipal clerks, who are tasked with running the state’s elections, don’t seem particularly keen on the idea.
“Having an additional election scheduled for March 2020 would have a big impact on all Municipal and County Clerks in the state of Wisconsin,” said Brookfield City Clerk Kelly Michaels, who heads the Wisconsin Municipal Clerks Association. Micheals estimated the cost in Brookfield would be between $18,000 and $23,000.
“Apply that cost to every municipality in Wisconsin and you can imagine the financial impact. There would be no good reason for it when there is already an election scheduled in February and another in April.”
The election date would be one of the issues Republican leaders want to take up in a lame duck legislative session, prior to Governor-elect Tony Evers taking office. A date for that session has not been set.
As for Vos, he also told WFAW that’s he’s thinking good thoughts about the incoming governor. “You know when I’m in church on Sunday, I pray that Tony Evers will be a successful governor, because I want to make sure that see our state succeeds. But I also know that an awful lot of the policies that he believes in are going to cause our state serious financial harm, and roll our state backwards.”