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On the Primary Crisis: What's Next

The Michigan Democratic Party is staring the abyss of a farceof a primary in the face.  However, we can still prevent a one-candidate/no delegates beauty contest and instead have a DNC-sanctioned party-caucus in which all candidates will participate and campaign in Michigan.

But we can start a movement to have a real caucus with all the candidates.  Encourage Mark Brewer to save the MDP and honor Michigan Democrats by moving our caucus back to 9 February.  The MDP can be reached by telephone at 517-371-5410 or at http://www.democracyinaction. You can find your County Party website to find out when the next meeting is or how to contact the County Chair here.

Tuesday (the deadline day to do so), Joe Biden, John Edwards, Barack Obama and Bill Richardson took their names off the ballot for the proposed 15 January presidential primary in Michigan (Dennis Kucinich also attempted to remove his name from the ballot but failed to follow state procedures by forgetting to have his signature notarized, so he will unwillingly remain on the ballot).  Three of the leading four candidate have done this because the DNC considers the 15 January Michigan Primary bill against Party rules and invalid.

Now, under the current scenario, the MDP is left with a beauty contest with just one of the leading four candidates that will not choose any delegates.  And even those remaining candidates have pledged not to campaign in our state.  Heck, no one can even stare a write-in campaign, since write-in votes probably won't be counted.  We therefore have a farce of a primary.

Michigan has been told by the DNC that it will not seat delegates chosen on a 15 January primary since it breaks the DNC rules of a front four states - Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire and South Carolina - and no other primaries until 5 February which was agreed to by the national party in July 2006.

Back in April of 2006, Michigan put it's name forwardas one of the eleven states which asked the DNC to place them in the early pool of primaries.  We had an excellent case: we're industrial, have large demographic populations (African-Americans, Catholics, Union households, Arab-Americans, urban residents, etc), are a swing-state, and would represent the currently unrepresented Midwest/Great Lakes area of the country.  Unfortunately, Nevada (Western, union-heavy, Latino) and South Carolina (Southern, African America-heavy) were selected.  Michigan was not.  But this was a democratic and legal process that the DNC followed.  In short, we tried the process and failed.  So, once Michigan saw that the new primary system was worse than the previous system (in that it gave Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina almost total control of selecting a nominee before a national primary on 5 February), Michigan broke the rules and made a powerplay to break into the front ranks.  I supported that decision for all the reasons stated about -- Michigan is hurting economically and our issues need to be addressed by the future president (it can't be all ethanol, Yucca Mountain and home heating oil, it'd be nice if someone discussed investing in the economy and fair trade -- though actually Edwards and Kucinich do).

However, the DNC ruled that any delegates chosen by Michigan or Florida (who with much less good reason tried to crash the early state party).  But even then Granholm and the MDP didn't back down (and I agreed with that, I mean hell, they'd sit our delegates if the nominee insisted).

However, then all eight Democratic candidates signed the New Hampshire Pledge (initiated by NH DP Chairman Ray Buckley and co-signed by the state party chairs of Iowa, Nevada and South Carolina).  The NH Pledge committed candidates not to campaign in Michigan (there could be private fundraisers, but no press conferences, public meetings, rallies, TV or radio ads, etc).  But, despite the fact that it was now clear that the gambit had backfired -- far from encouraging candidates to visit Michigan and address our issues the gamble had created the polar opposite situation --, the governor and the MDP seemed to continue to labor under the delusion that they hadn't lost.

Then, Tuesday, the final sword dropped.  Hillary Clinton will be the only candidate willing to break the agreed upon rules and stay on the non-sanctioned Michigan primary on 15 January.


I have to say, at first, I was very angry at my candidate -- John Edwards -- for pulling himself off the ballot in my state.  All the hard work that I and countless of other activists and endorsers seemed to be for nothing.  I understood accepting the NH Pledge to not campaign here, but it seemed unnecessary to go beyond that and take their names off the ballot.

However, my change of heart came when I was talking to some folks and hearing that Granholm still wants to go through with the 15 January date.  It now seems clear that the campaigns felt they had to do this in order to convince the Governor Granholm and a few other Michigan Democratic leaders not to drive off the cliff.  Taking and living by "The NH Pledge" wasn't enough to convince them to make a Hegelian reconciliation with reality.

Heck, on Wednesday, in the most inappropriate and incorrect of statements, Jennifer Granholm went so far as to insultthe other two leading candidates -- Edwards and Obama -- claiming that they "bailed out" of Michigan because they were "more loyal to Iowa and New Hampshire than they are to the other states."

Now it's clear that Mark Brewer needs to take the reins and save our beloved Michigan Democratic Party.

According to the Michigan Election Law Act 116 (from 1954):

168.613a (2) Not later than 4 p.m. on November 14, 2007, the chairperson of each participating political party shall notify the secretary of state if his or her political party will be using a method other than the results of the January 15, 2008 presidential primary to select delegates to his or her respective national convention to nominate a candidate for president of the United States in 2008. 

Please, Chairman Brewer, allow Michigan Democrats to vote for who they want.  Allow Michigan Democrats the ability to choose real delegates.  Don't allow the farce.

In response to these issues, last night at our monthly meeting, the Kent County Democratic Party (centered around Grand Rapids, the second largest city in Michigan) passed the following resolution (by voice vote, I'm guessing about 80% Yea to 20% Nay; disclosure: I put forward this resolution).

Resolved: The Kent County Democratic Party believes that a 15 January primary that chooses no National Convention delegates and gives Michigan voters a very limited choice from the Democratic presidential field is not in the interest of Michigan or the Michigan Democratic Party.

Therefore, the Kent County Democratic Party strongly encourages the Michigan Democratic Party and its Chair Mark Brewer to opt out of the 15 January primary and return to a DNC-sanctioned Caucus on or after 5 February 2008.

The Edwards campaign also urges that Michigan return to a DNC-sanctioned 9 February Caucus.

Should Michigan move back to a caucus on or after February 5th, Senator Edwards will compete in that contest.

The Obama campaign has said something similar -- they want to campaign in Michigan and will be on a 9 February caucus ballot.

I urge everyone to put forward similar resolution as we passed in Kent County.  I have heard that Thursday night the 12th Congressional District Committee (in joint session with the Macomb County Democratic Party) voted last night to move Michigan back to a 9 February Caucus.

Michigan Democrats: To Action!

Crossposted at Michigan Liberal, Michigan for Edwards and DemocraticEdge(the West Michigan blog).

Originally posted to philgoblue on Mon Oct 15, 2007 at 06:52 AM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Contradiction? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    cpresley

    Then, Tuesday, the final sword dropped.  Hillary Clinton will be the only candidate willing to break the agreed upon rules and stay on the non-sanctioned Michigan primary on 15 January.

    and

    I have to say, at first, I was very angry at my candidate -- John Edwards -- for pulling himself off the ballot in my state.  All the hard work that I and countless of other activists and endorsers seemed to be for nothing.  I understood accepting the NH Pledge to not campaign here, but it seemed unnecessary to go beyond that and take their names off the ballot.

  •  Done. Here's the e-mail my husband and I sent... (11+ / 0-)

    PLEASE give Michigan Democrats the opportunity to vote in a real primary. Move the date back to a point in time wherein we will have all of the candidates here, in the state for campaigning AND for us to vote for.  GIVE US OUR VOICE BACK.

    Thank you.

    VEBO...Vote Every Bum Out

    by ShainZona on Mon Oct 15, 2007 at 07:03:23 AM PDT

  •  Kudos. Many of us were trying to push this last (8+ / 0-)

    week amongst all of the goodbye Dem party diaries.  I hope you guys can pull this off, because Michigan IS an important state for Dems.

    "I served my country. I played High School Football!" -Al Bundy

    by magi on Mon Oct 15, 2007 at 07:08:44 AM PDT

  •  Where We Really Need County Parties (9+ / 0-)

    to pass resolutions is

    Macomb (Detroit Suburbs): Passed
    Kent (Grand Rapids): Passed

    Wayne (Detroit): ?
    Oakland (Detroit Suburbs): ?
    Saginaw: ?
    Genesee (Flint): ?
    Washtenaw (Ann Arbor): ?
    Ingham (Lansing): ?
    Kalamazoo: ?

    That'd include most Democrats in Michigan.  If you live there, go to your county party meeting, and email and call your county Democratic Party and the MDP.

    All the information to find your County Party: http://www.michigandems.com//getloca...

  •  rec'd (8+ / 0-)

    this is important stuff.

    zb

    Insight into change teaches us hope. No matter how bad the situation, anything is possible. - Buddha

    by zenbowl on Mon Oct 15, 2007 at 07:22:41 AM PDT

  •  Done (6+ / 0-)

    After a glorious, month long un-plugged vacation,
    returning home to find that Bush is still nuts,
    and that Michigan doesn't really matter to anybody outside Michigan
    was not surprising. Unpleasant, but not srprising.

    Since nobody loves Michigan but US,
    it is simply good sense to junk the January nonPrimary
    and retreat to the Caucus which will ensure our votes will matter.

    Abandon ideology. Instead, tell the truth. Always.

    by slowheels on Mon Oct 15, 2007 at 07:29:19 AM PDT

  •  The candidates still aren't allowed back (0+ / 0-)

    The 4 states still aren't allowed back even if you change your primary.

    From letter from 4 states (PDF)

    That said, this specific one-time request from Florida will be acceptable, if, and only if, Florida timely submits a Delegate Selection Plan that the Rules and Bylaws Committee Staff of the DNC would recommend for compliance. This would extend only to an appearance at the state convention itself.

    We and our voters understand that, except for this convention, even if Florida submits a compliant plan, DNC rules would still prohibit further campaigning there until after January 29th, 2008.

    The FDP was asking if the candidates could still come to the state Dem convention. The 4 states said yes but only if we change the primary to comply and then that is the only event they can attend. No campaigning otherwise.

    So the pledge sticks no matter what your actions are.

    If Dems take away my primary vote, they don't deserve my general vote.

    by Step Beyond on Mon Oct 15, 2007 at 07:43:34 AM PDT

    •  I don't believe this is correct (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      cosbo, pioneer111

      It's a little hard to follow your reasoning, but the Pledge is this:

      "I, (name), Democratic candidate for President, pledge I shall not campaign or participate in any state which schedules a presidential primary election or caucus before Feb. 5, 2008, except for the states of Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire and South Carolina."

      Thus, if the MDP does not choose to participate in the 15 January primary and goes back to the DNC-sanctioned caucus, we're fine.

      Not sure about the law in Florida.

      •  Did you read the letter? (0+ / 0-)

        Yes but you have already schedule a primary in violation of the pledge. The pledge also doesn't say that then changing the date back ends the boycott.

        That pdf letter is from the people who created the pledge. How is that last paragraph alternatively interpreted? It is very clear - even if you comply, they can't come.

        If Dems take away my primary vote, they don't deserve my general vote.

        by Step Beyond on Mon Oct 15, 2007 at 07:55:17 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Replying to myself (0+ / 0-)

          I should be clear. I think before you push you need to check with those 4 states and get in writing that the pledge ends if you change your primary back into compliance. I think changing your primary and then finding out they stick with the pledge will do even more harm to Dems in your state.

          If Dems take away my primary vote, they don't deserve my general vote.

          by Step Beyond on Mon Oct 15, 2007 at 07:58:11 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  But Florida is not changing the primary date (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            cosbo, America08, waiting for hope

            and wasn't offering to do so.  I think this is different in its intent and process.

            It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change. Charles Darwin

            by pioneer111 on Mon Oct 15, 2007 at 08:02:06 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  This was during the window (0+ / 0-)

              At the time, Florida was still considering changing the system - caucus or by mail vote. This was before the deadline of compliance for Florida, which was the end of September.

              I'm not sure how others are reading this letter. But it seems to me to be pretty clear. Maybe I'm not fully awake yet.

              If Dems take away my primary vote, they don't deserve my general vote.

              by Step Beyond on Mon Oct 15, 2007 at 08:07:39 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

        •  Again, I'm not interested in Florida (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          cosbo, lanikai, cfk, Mannabass

          I am interested in Michigan and here, it seems remarkably clear that the pledge does not apply if we move back.

          There is campaigning going on, after all, in all states except Michigan and Florida.

          And I got this email from the Edwards campaign:

          Should Michigan move back to a caucus on or after February 5th, Senator Edwards will compete in that contest.

          •  But that doesn't explain the letter. (0+ / 0-)

            The candidates have not been very knowledgeable on the pledge up until this point. No offense to them, the pledge should have been written better. Bill Clinton is coming to Florida soon for a cheap fundraiser and there is talk it may violate the pledge. I don't see that specifically because it is a fundraiser but who knows?

            Why would there be one pledge enforcement/rules for Florida and a different ones for Michigan? It's the same pledge by the same creators. And I agree just reading the pledge one would reasonably assume that meant if you moved into compliance that the pledge no longer applies. But that doesn't explain the letter.

            If Dems take away my primary vote, they don't deserve my general vote.

            by Step Beyond on Mon Oct 15, 2007 at 08:34:43 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

  •  great job Phil, I'll help push this in Oakland cy (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    philgoblue, lanikai, cfk, pioneer111

    Automotive News just front paged statistics about Ford and Toyota's sales.  Just Five years Ford dominated car sales nationally, today Toyota sold over 900,000 cars in NA, Ford has yet to hit 500,000 cars.  
    With this kind of dramatic flip, the leadership is flailing about for attention in all the wrong ways.  We need the candidates to campaign here and we need them to pay attention to us. But we have to play within the rules.  This gimmick was just that, I hope Brewer comes to his senses.

    "You may be on the right track, but if you sit still, you'll get run over" Will Rogers

    by gaspare on Mon Oct 15, 2007 at 07:50:40 AM PDT

  •  I am so glad there is a movement to (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    cosbo, lanikai, America08

    get Michigan back on track with the DNC.  I think Michigan has a good case to work towards changing the future process.  But right now this is one of the most important elections we are about to have and it is essential that all states have have a say in the process.  

    In my view it is essential that all candidates have a fair chance in each state.  That is why I didn't think changing the process in the middle of the game is helpful.  Ultimately I want Edwards to be heard and to not have state maneuvers choose the candidate.

    It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change. Charles Darwin

    by pioneer111 on Mon Oct 15, 2007 at 08:07:08 AM PDT

  •  Make All Primaries late - not early (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    cosbo, pioneer111

    Making the primaries early in the season crushes many necessary conversations in favor of the rich and connected at the expence of every one else.

    Kucinnich and Gravel may not win - but they should be heard - making the primary season short and years before the election is an insider trick to screw the people and get us all in line bleating the same chorus. That is baaadd

    The primaries should be as close to the convention as  possible - and the convention should be as close to the election as possible - If the citizen voters are important -- if we are nothing but sheep to be herded - we simply should pick the next president a week after inauguration sit back and stop thinking.

    ==================================================
    a just government respects the rights of all people equally and grants special favor to none

  •  phil, I am in TN but I am rec'ing your (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    cosbo, extradish

    diary because we have to find a solution to this. We can't have one of our most important general election states be left out like this. Good luck.

  •  I should note that Saturday (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    cosbo, cfk, extradish, Mannabass

    I had a chance to talk with Governor Granholm.

    Here's what I wrote about an hour after our conversation:

    I Just Came Back from a Fundraiser with Governor Granholm and I talked with her for a few minutes on the primary crisis. It was a real pleasant conversation and I continue to be impressed with our governor's mind. She heard me out even though as a professor I'm used to interputing people at will. I told her that I felt that the caucus should be moved back and showed her the Kent County Party resolution to that effect.

    I said that we made a valiant effort to push ourselves into the front group, but had failed and that the only way to get candidates to listen to Michigan issues (which was the point of trying to move up), is to go back to 9 February.

    She said that we've gotten ourselves into a position where we've got lemons and need to find a way to make lemonaid. I continue to find that a bit dillusional. Candidates just aren't going to campaign here.

    But her plan seems to be to get the legislature to pass a new law which would force any national candidate to be on the Michigan ballot (that would indeed take a new law). To me that's a little shaddy and even a bit unethical. I continue to hope that the Democrats of Michigan will contact her, Brewer and every leading Democrat they know and pressure them to find a way to have a DNC-sanctioned caucus.

    By the way, Granholm gave a great speech as always. She apparently just got back from Sweden and was jacked up about their transformation from an auto-focused manufactoring economy to an alternative energy economy. She also commented about the budget compromise. As always, she gives a great speech and has incredible speaking skills and a sharp mind. Now, I won't agree with everything she says (let's face it Monday she's going to make a mistake and endorse Hillary -- I think she should wait until 14 November), but she's a credit to the Wolverine State. More on the speeches later, I'm off to the Kent County Dogs-n-Suds picnic/fundraiser and she'll be there with Cherry.

    One way that we can get candidates to come out here is if we have a neutral governor. If she is going to endorse Clinton, I don't think she's doing herself or Hillary any favors. I think the national media, Michigan Democrats and other candidates will look at Michigan and say the governor rigged it for her favorite candidate. I'm not sure that's entirely correct -- I still hold out the hope that Granholm will recognize reality and Brewer will have the guts to accept defeat and go back to a 9 February caucus.

  •  No (0+ / 0-)
    I see most of the people on this thread agree with you, so I have to at least provide one voice of dissent.

    In my view, Michigan is screwed either way. If we stick with the primary, our delegates won't count, and if we go back to a Feb 9 caucus, our votes won't count either, because the nominee will almost certainly be decided by the Feb 5th primaries. At least by keeping the January primary, we at least get to cause a ruckus, and possibly break the stranglehold that Iowa and New Hampshire have on the selection of our nominee.

    Nothing can "save us" for this election, so lets set our sights on changing things for 2012.

    And, I'll also be so crass as to point out that your candidate is trying to have it both ways. He slaps Michigan voters in the face by withdrawing from the ballot, but pushes for a cave-in so that people can vote for him anyway.

    I for one, won't. But a caucus has a much lower participation, and it's likely he'd end up with a few delegates anyway, and I say, he made his choice--he picked Iowa and New Hampshire over Michigan. Make him live with it.

    Yes, I'm bitter, because I was leaning towards him, and I thought he could do well here and maybe shake up the race. Edwards blew that chance, and my support, with his pander to Iowa.

    The future is all around us, waiting in moments of transition, to be born in moments of revelation. --G'Kar, "Z'ha'dum" Babylon 5

    by KarenJG on Mon Oct 15, 2007 at 12:31:45 PM PDT

  •  my e mail just sent (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    danthrax

    I agree with this statement from Kent County:  "strongly encourages the Michigan Democratic Party and its Chair Mark Brewer to opt out of the 15 January primary and return to a DNC-sanctioned Caucus on or after 5 February 2008."

    We cannot afford to have the GOP candidates' messages running on our airwaves with no answer back from our candidates.

    This is madness...we can't afford another 4 years of Republican misrule.

    Fix the unfair primary dates legally, later, and try to have the caucus this time...it may be too late to fix this mess, but do try.

    Sincerely,

    Join us at Bookflurries: Bookchat Wednesday evenings 8 PM EST

    by cfk on Mon Oct 15, 2007 at 02:13:19 PM PDT

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