Swing State

Politics and Humor…but I repeat myself

The Michigan Primary

States jockey for ’08 position (Det News Link)

Parties seek earlier primary, caucus dates, but will Michigan benefit?

Gordon Trowbridge / Detroit News Washington Bureau

Only two things are clear about the convoluted jockeying among states for the pole position in the 2008 presidential nomination contests: No one likes how this is going. And it can only get worse.For Michigan, which is among two dozen or more states scrambling to move its nomination contests earlier in the campaign calendar, the unsettled process carries big implications. It could bring more national attention to the state’s economic plight and that of its embattled manufacturers. Or, Michigan voters could be lost among the sea of balloting. “The system today is ridiculous,” said state Republican chairman Saul Anuzis.What’s happening? A crush of states, all seeking more influence in the selection of presidential candidates, have set primary or party caucus dates on Feb. 5. That’s the first day, under national party rules, in which states can vote. States that go earlier risk losing delegates to the national conventions. California, on Thursday, became the latest big state to move to Feb. 5; as many as 26 may eventually select delegates in one or both party races that day.

All are trying to move as close as possible to Jan. 22, the date of New Hampshire’s first-in-the-nation primary. Increasingly, politicians have chafed at the influence New Hampshire and Iowa, both in the bottom half of the 50 states, in population, wield with their early contests.

“We’re not going to let New Hampshire run roughshod over this process,” said Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., who along with state Democratic Party mover and shaker Debbie Dingell fought to place two states between Iowa’s Jan. 14 caucuses and the New Hampshire primary. Levin and others hoped to give industrial states such as Michigan more influence; instead, party leaders picked Nevada and South Carolina

Michigan’s date is up in the air. Democratic leaders have set a Feb. 9 caucus date. But they and the state GOP are negotiating terms of a statewide Feb. 5 primary for both parties. And Democratic leaders say they’ll move even earlier in February if New Hampshire leaders, jealous of their lost influence, decide to move up their primary.

Political analysts say it will be almost impossible to campaign everywhere in what would almost be a national primary. “The question is, is Michigan a state that a bunch of candidates will decide to focus on from among all those others?” asked Lawrence Butler, a presidential elections expert at Rowan University in New Jersey.

In some minds, the answer is to move even earlier. Trent Wisecup, a veteran GOP political staffer now serving as chief of staff to Rep. Joe Knollenberg, R-Bloomfield Hills, sent an unusual public e-mail last week to GOP chairman Anuzis, calling for a Feb. 2 primary.

“Don’t get caught up on losing delegates to the national convention. The important thing is for Michigan to be big and early,” Wisecup wrote Anuzis.

The state parties haven’t decided whether to hold a state-financed primary, or party-paid caucuses. National Democratic Party rules don’t recognize the results of open primaries, such as Michigan’s, that don’t require voters to declare a party preference. There is some support for a semi-closed primary in which voters would declare the party for which they are voting at the polling site — but only the parties, not the state, would keep a record of that preference.

Leaders in both parties worry that the Feb. 5 jam could hurt their presidential nominees. Analysts believe the process will favor well-financed candidates over skilled politicians.

U.S. Rep. Sander Levin, D-Royal Oak, has proposed one of many reform plans. He would establish a rotation system, with six election dates and six regional groups of states

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March 19, 2007 - Posted by | Michigan Politics, News from the News

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