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Michigan House approves moving presidential primary to Jan. 15

Michigan House approves moving presidential primary to Jan. 15

The Michigan Legislature on Thursday approved moving the state's U.S. presidential nomination contests to Jan. 15, just days after national Democrats vowed to punish states that vote too early.
In an unusual series of events, states have been challenging tradition and moving up their primaries and caucuses, which are used in nominating a party's candidate for the presidential election. In the past, candidates who fail to win in early states have often dropped out of the race. This has allowed small states with early contests to have a disapproportionate influence in determining the candidates.
The Michigan bill is headed to Democratic Gov. Jennifer Granholm, who has said she would sign it. But it still would have to be accepted by the executive committee of the Michigan Democratic Party. A disagreement among state Democratic leaders over whether to hold a primary or a caucus is complicating final action.
The ever-changing contest schedule _ and the earlier start _ has created an enormous level of discomfort for national parties trying to impose discipline, as well as presidential campaigns trying to figure out strategies when voting could begin in just five months.
"We understand that we're violating the rules, but it wasn't by choice," Michigan Republican Chairman Saul Anuzis said, noting that state Democrats were the ones pushing to move to Jan. 15. "We're going to ask for forgiveness and we think ... we will get forgiveness."
The primary election calendar was designed to preserve the traditional role that Iowa and New Hampshire have played in selecting the nominee, while adding two states with more racial and geographic diversity, South Carolina and Nevada, to influential early slots.
But South Carolina Republicans moved their primary to Jan. 19, forcing Iowa and New Hampshire to reconsider their dates to maintain their early status. Iowa caucuses had been scheduled for Jan. 14 and New Hampshire's primary was tentatively set for Jan. 22. Nevada is scheduled to vote on Jan. 19.
More moves are expected in the coming weeks.
Democratic National Committeewoman Debbie Dingell, who helped push the move to break Iowa and New Hampshire's lock on the earliest presidential contests, said moving Michigan to Jan. 15 will force presidential candidates to address issues such as the loss of manufacturing and other problems faced by large industrial states.
"We need to have the candidates talk about what's the backbone of the American economy," said Dingell, president of General Motors Foundation and the wife of Michigan Representative John Dingell, a Democrat.
As a state with a large number of delegates to the nominating conventions, Michigan would command considerable attention from candidates if it moved to a mid-January date.
But if it moves up, Michigan risks losing all its delegates. Seeking to impose discipline on states, the Democratic National Committee's rules committee voted this week to take away Florida's 210 delegates to the party's national nominating convention next summer after Florida Democrats moved up their primary to Jan. 29.
Last weekend, Wyoming Republicans also decided to jump ahead to Jan. 5. The Republican National Committee insists it will penalize states that schedule nominating contests before Feb. 5 by withholding half of their delegates to its party convention next summer.


Updated : 2021-08-02 21:33 GMT+08:00