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Critics line up against proposed primary shift for Wisconsin



Cost is one factor but critics contend there are plenty of other reasons to dislike the plan by Wisconsin Republicans to move the state’s 2020 presidential primary.

GOP leaders wanted to move the election to March as a way to give conservative state Supreme Court justice Dan Kelly a better shot at keeping his job in the election that spring, which is basically like subverting democracy, says Matt Rothschild from the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign.

“It’s weird, when you look at it from that perspective, because here we have elected officials, in our democracy, saying it would be better if we had an election with fewer people showing up,” Rothchild said. “That’s quite the opposite of what we want in a democracy.”

They backed down, for now, on changing the 2020 presidential primary date on Monday.

GOP leaders had admitted the move will benefit Kelly, who faces election during a primary during which there will be a sizable Democratic voter turnout.

Angry opponents filled the hallways of the Wisconsin Capitol, and a hearing room, banging on doors and chanting “Respect our votes!” and “Shame!”

Critics are calling the lame duck session an unprecedented power grab by lawmakers, especially moving the primary, which will cost at least $7 million, according to the Wisconsin Election Commission.

Rothchild calls it a desperate move to cling to power and certainly not all that surprising.

“Basically, since the days of Newt Gingrich,” Rothchild said, “the idea that we could have some established rules that we’d follow and not be always about how much power we can hoard. That seems to be a quaint and antiquated idea that’s gone out the window.”

Election clerks have also weighed in on the proposed change, calling it anywhere from inadvisable to impossible.

Moving the primary would mean three state elections in three months. The election commission says to make the change would be “extraordinarily difficult.”

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