The Michigan Senate passed yesterday a bill moving up its primaries to Jan. 15, getting one step closer to really screwing Iowa. Too bad state Democrats are standing in the way.
The Michigan proposal, which passed the state Senate by a vote of 21-17, would push the primary six weeks ahead of its originally scheduled date of Feb. 26, and leapfrog the Feb. 5 threshold both major national parties have set for most states to begin holding presidential primaries and caucuses. The Michigan action came, coincidentally, a day after Arizona joined the pileup of nearly 20 states that will or appear likely to hold their primaries and caucuses exactly on Feb. 5.
Should the Michigan measure become law, the state would exceed the front-loading efforts of the previously most aggressive front-loading states: South Carolina, where the Republican Party announced earlier this month that it will hold its primary on Jan. 19, and vote-rich Florida, where a law enacted in May pegs Jan. 29 as the primary day for both parties. Florida officials made this move in the face of stiff sanctions threatened by officials of both national parties, which if carried out could strip the state of many or even all of its delegates to the summer 2008 presidential conventions — a warning that almost certainly would also pertain to Michigan if it went ahead with the Jan. 15 plan.
Michigan Republican Party spokesman Bill Nowling said the state GOP did not want to go against national party rules, but that the push for an earlier primary was necessary to keep Michigan — the eighth most-populous state — relevant in the process of picking the nominees to succeed President Bush in the White House.
The fact that the Michigan bill also must pass the Democratic-controlled state House, however, lends some serious doubt about its prospects for enactment. The effort is largely a venture of the state’s Republicans: The state Democratic Party has scheduled a separate caucus for Feb. 9 to comply with Democratic National Committee (DNC) rules. State Democratic Party Chairman Mark Brewer opposes the proposed shift to Jan. 15 and called the state Senate’s action “unfortunate.”
Still, Democratic Gov. Jennifer Granholm has said she would sign the bill into law.
This would force New Hampshire to move its primary up to the first week of January, and leave Iowa out in the cold -- state law requires its contest to be one week before any other contest, but ALSO take place the same year of the presidential election. So something will have to give. It'll have the unenviable task of scheduling its caucuses either during hangover time post-New Years, or around Christmas.
And what about DNC threats to not seat Florida and Michigan delegates? Not going to happen, as Jerome says.
Michigan and Florida have courageously decided to send more than a message to New Hampshire and Iowa, that they don't own the primary calendar. In response, the DNC is threatening those two states with stripping of their delegates:"You are going to see big signs on the floor of the Democratic Convention that say `Florida' and `Michigan' and you are going to see rows of empty seats beneath them," one DNC member warned.
What stupidity. What kind of statement would that send to the swing states of Florida and Michigan for the general contest? I don't care what sort of threats the DNC makes, they are empty. Florida is going to be the big enchilada for the 2008 Democratic nomination. All their delegates will count. The DNC rules committee, and whatever they fancy their power to be, is irrelevant and will not be able to do anything, other than agree that they created this situation with their timidity and lack of providing a substantive solution to the calendar problem.
Amen. Hopefully we can find a real solution to the primary calendar problem for the 2012 cycle that acknowledges and reflects the diversities of our country and gives more Americans, not just those in Iowa and New Hampshire, a say in their politics.