State Sen. Alberta Darling defended a Republican idea to change the date of Wisconsin’s 2020 presidential primary, a move that could help a conservative Wisconsin Supreme justice keep his job.

The April 2020 primary could be an election with high Democratic voter turnout. Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Daniel Kelly, appointed by Republican Gov. Scott Walker in 2016, will be up for election at that time.

“We don’t think it’s appropriate to put the burden of a presidential primary on top of our local races, so that’s what that’s all about,” Darling, R-River Hills, said on “UpFront with Mike Gousha,” produced in partnership with

“But why was it appropriate in 2016? In 2016, Rebecca Bradley was running, we had a presidential primary. You could argue she benefited from that. Why was this not an issue then?” Gousha asked.

“Well, the issue is we found from that election that it really didn’t benefit a lot of other (non) partisan races. And we want to make a statement that we need to change the national influence on local elections,” Darling said.

Darling, who co-chairs the Joint Committee on Finance, also acknowledged the Kimberly-Clark incentive bill lacks votes to pass the Senate at this time. Several Republican senators have stated their opposition to the bill.

Darling said previous incentive packages to help retain large employers have passed with bipartisan support. She said Democrats should “dig deep” to find support for the bill, which would help consumer products maker Kimberly-Clark keep jobs in the Fox Valley.

“The fact is, these are $72,000 (a year) jobs we’re talking about. If they leave, where are these people going to find $72,000 jobs?” she said.

Also on the program, Assembly Minority Leader Gordon Hintz, D-Oshkosh, said the idea to change the date of the 2020 presidential primary shows Republicans are “more interested in power and control” than in democracy.

“It’s the height of hypocrisy when you think about the fact that, just a year ago, (Republicans) wouldn’t fill seats that were vacated for people who went to the administration because of the cost of those elections,” Hintz said.

“Now, they’re talking about changing the rules to add additional elections that will cost millions of dollars of taxpayer expense,” he said.

“This is exactly the brand of politics that that was rejected by the voters, who really selected Tony Evers to really move away from this brand of politics,” Hintz said.

In another segment, Kyle Kondik, managing editor of Sabato’s Crystal Ball at the University of Virginia Center for Politics, said Wisconsin will once again be a battleground state in 2020.

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