Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Michigan Republicans Eye Late February/Early March Primary

This is technically old news -- from last week -- but I wanted to make note of it on FHQ and tie a couple of things together before making a broader point on the calendar.

For starters, the Michigan Republican State Central Committee's Policy Committee met last week and formalized a set of resolutions regarding the allocation of presidential delegates to bring up for a vote at next month's State Central Committee meeting. Michigan's Republican National Committeeman, Saul Anuzis, though, gives the better, inside picture of what is truly on the table. Unlike what was widely reported, Michigan Republicans are looking not just at February 28 and March 6 as possible landing spots for the Wolverine state presidential primary, but instead are using that as a range. In other words, like Florida, a non-Tuesday primary is a possibility.

What's more, Michigan Republicans may opt to defy the RNC delegate selection rules and take the 50% delegate deduction, but the Policy Committee recommendations are letter perfect in following the new proportionality requirements. As Anuzis puts it:
The Committee also recommended using the 2008 Apportionment method to allocate delegates. That is winner take all by congressional district and proportional for the at-large delegates based on the overall statewide vote. A candidate would have to get a minimum of 15% to qualify for any delegates.
Those congressional district delegates comprise the majority of delegates in any state's total and those can still be allocated in a winner-take-all fashion in 2012 -- even ahead of the April 1 winner-take-all cutoff. Well, to be clear, that cutoff is being reported as the point after which states can begin allocating delegates on a winner-take-all basis. In reality and in practice, that April 1 date merely separates states that can use winner-take-all allocation for all delegates (post-April 1 states) and those states that can only use that method for the congressional district delegates. Anyway, the Michigan plan is compliant with the RNC rules and could even move the threshold for receiving delegates from 15% of the primary vote to 20% (the maximum) if they so chose. [There is no indication that they will.]

What does all of this mean for the calendar?

Well, we are potentially looking a domino effect with this group of "rogue" states. FHQ has said this all along, but what happens in Michigan affects what happens in Florida affects what happens in Iowa/New Hampshire/Nevada/South Carolina. If Michigan carves out a space in between February 28 and March 6 that is very likely to impact Florida's decision-making in terms of a March 1, 2 or 3 primary. Florida Republicans have consistently voiced a desire for the fifth position on the primary calendar, and Michigan, not to mention Arizona on February 28, compromise Florida's ability to find a defiant, but not-too-defiant primary date.

Regardless, Michigan Republicans can only do so much at their State Central Committee meeting next month. The rest will depend on the Republican-controlled state government -- like actually moving the date from where it is scheduled currently: February 28. Should the legislature not act -- and recall there is legislation to move the primary to January -- Michigan would hold its primary on February 28.

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