Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Back to the Future in Michigan: Another Attempt to Move Presidential Primary to March

After a failed attempt during last December's lame duck session, the Michigan state legislature has again initiated an attempt to move the Great Lakes state presidential primary into compliance with the national party delegate selection rules.

State Senator David Robertson (R-14th, Genesee) has introduced SB 44 which would change the date of the presidential primary in Michigan from the fourth Tuesday in February to the third Tuesday in March. The language of the bill is the same as SB 1159 from the lame duck session late last year with the same impact. It would bring the state back into compliance with the national party rules, helping both Michigan parties avoid sanction from either the DNC or RNC. That means a full delegation -- on the Republican side anyway -- for the first time in two cycles if the bill is passed and signed into law.

This would also push Michigan far enough down the calendar -- to March 15 for the 2016 cycle -- that it would be on the earliest date on which Republican states can utilize winner-take-all allocation rules. However, Michigan Republicans have already settled on an allocation plan that is not truly winner-take-all. Instead, the state party has authorized a conditionally winner-take-all system for 2016. If one candidate clears the 50% threshold in the statewide vote, then that candidate would be entitled to the full allotment of delegates from Michigan. If, however, no candidate wins a majority of the vote, the allocation is winner-take-all by congressional district with the statewide, at-large delegates awarded proportional to the candidates' shares of the vote statewide.

March 15 is a date that the Michigan Republican Party has endorsed and also falls at a point on the calendar that coincides with primaries in regional neighbor, Illinois.1 Missouri also has a presidential primary scheduled for that date. There has been talk of a midwestern primary and this may be a spot on the calendar where states open to that idea gather.

UPDATE (2/5/15): Bill passes Senate committee
UPDATE (2/12/15): Bill passes Senate
UPDATE (2/18/15): House passes amended version
UPDATE (2/19/15): Senate concurs with House changes
UPDATE (2/20/15): Governor signs bill (changes primary date to March 8, 2016)

1 If Illinois maintains that position.

Recent Posts:
Legislation Would Shift Illinois Presidential, Other Primaries from March to June

The End of the New Hampshire Primary? Death Penalty?

Earlier Convention Forcing South Dakota to Push Presidential Primary Up?

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