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Lawmakers in US state Michigan approve moving presidential primary to January despite rules

Lawmakers in US state Michigan approve moving presidential primary to January despite rules

Michigan lawmakers have approved moving the state's U.S. presidential nomination contests to January, three weeks earlier than party rules allow, as states continue to challenge the traditional primary election calendar to gain influence in the race.
Democratic Gov. Jennifer Granholm is expected to sign the bill passed Thursday that would move the contest to Jan. 15, but approval of the switch is far from certain. A disagreement among state Democratic leaders over whether to hold a traditional ballot vote or a more restricted caucus is complicating final action.
If the date moves up, Michigan Democrats risk losing all their national convention delegates, while Republicans risk losing half.
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 disproportionate influence in determining the candidates.
Rules in both parties say states cannot hold their 2008 primary contests before Feb. 5, except for a few hand-picked states that hold elections in January.
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 in January.
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 first proposed moving the date to Jan. 15. "We're going to ask for forgiveness and we think ... we will get forgiveness."
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.
Even states that do not have favored status are trying to jump toward the front of the line. Florida Democrats decided to move their state's primary to Jan. 29. The national party has said it will strip Florida of its presidential convention delegates unless it decides within the next few weeks to move the vote to a later date.
Last weekend, Wyoming Republicans also decided to jump ahead to Jan. 5, which is, so far, the earliest vote.
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 would force presidential candidates to address issues such as the loss of manufacturing and other problems faced by large industrial states.
"Jobs in the auto industry are still one of the biggest sources of jobs in this country. And we need to have candidates talking about what's the backbone of the American economy," said Dingell, president of General Motors Foundation and the wife of U.S. House Rep. John Dingell, a Democrat from Michigan.


Updated : 2021-02-27 18:43 GMT+08:00