Thursday, May 26, 2011

Michigan Democrats Call on State Republicans to Cancel Presidential Primary

In a press item1 released on Monday, the Michigan Democratic Party called on Republicans in the state to cancel the Wolverine state's 2012 presidential primary. Democrats cited the $10 million savings as the prime reason for the call and raised the point that Michigan Democrats will allocate delegates to their national convention via caucuses. The primary, then, would cost the state the same amount, but only be used by one of the parties as a means of allocating delegates.

The release is new, but the sentiment is not. Michigan Democratic legislators earlier in the month bemoaned the budget expenditure for the primary, but Republicans deferred:
Resolving that conflict [the presidential primary issue] is “a discussion further down the road,” said Michigan Republican Party spokesman Matt Davis. He said it’s up to the Legislature to pay for a primary that’s required under current law.
That may be, but the Republican-controlled legislature is likely to wait until later in the year -- when Michigan Republicans make their decision on when and how to allocated their delegates in August -- before moving on the presidential primary question and relatedly, whether to fund it.

But Democrats came with additional ammunition, seeking -- futilely perhaps -- to goad Republicans closed to their position. Understandably, Republicans in any state would be hesitant to shift from a primary to a caucus in a year in which the Republican presidential nomination is at stake based on a loss of (candidate and media) attention (see Gurian 1993). But Democrats pointed to the fact that the state canceled its 2004 primary when only the Democratic Party had a competitive presidential nomination race. That seems like a good point, save for two realities. First, Republicans controlled the legislature in 2003 when the primary was canceled. Sure Democratic Governor Jennifer Granholm signed off on the move, but it was a Republican-initiated effort (see SB 397, five Republican co-sponsors) that received Democratic support in the legislature.2

And while that can be dismissed as a bipartisan effort that lends some credence to the point of the Michigan Democratic Party ("Let's work together and save the state some money."), the history of the two Michigan parties in presidential nominations should not be ignored. That is the second point. Michigan Republicans have historically been more active in presidential nominations. This has come in fits and starts, but Michigan Republicans began their 1988 delegate selection process in 1986, held a February primary in 2000 (while Democrats were forced to hold a later caucus) and there's the 2008 presidential primary saga in Michigan. Granted, Michigan Democrats were being proactive in going along with Republicans in the legislature in moving the primary up and into violation of both parties' delegate selection rules.

This is a long way of saying that Michigan Democrats probably shouldn't hold their breath on this. Even if it does work out and Michigan Republicans opt for a caucus system, we won't know that until August.

Michigan Democrats Call on Michigan GOP to Agree to Cancel Presidential Primary, Save Hundreds of Jobs

LANSING – The Michigan Democratic Party today called on Michigan Republicans to agree with Democrats to cancel the 2012 presidential primary election, which would cost the state $10 million dollars. The Michigan Democratic Party will not participate in the primary and will instead hold a presidential caucus on May 5, 2012.

“Canceling the primary and saving $10 million would help to save more than 200 jobs for teachers, police officers, firefighters, and emergency responders,” Michigan Democratic Party Chair Mark Brewer said. “This money is much better spent protecting jobs and Michigan families rather than on a primary election.”

“We have chosen not to participate in a primary and to hold a caucus to save the state money,” continued Brewer. “We ask the Republicans to agree with us to cancel the primary and help save jobs.”

The 2004 Michigan presidential primary was canceled by agreement of the parties, saving money. This year, Republicans and Democrats in several states, including Washington and Kansas, have already passed legislation to cancel the presidential primary to save money.

Schools are already suffering thanks to Governor Snyder’s budget that cuts public education, and unfairly increases taxes on seniors, middle class families, and low-wage workers all to pay for a record tax giveaway to CEOs, banks, and insurance companies. The Lansing School District alone would be forced to lay-off dozens of teachers – leading to increased class sizes and less individual attention for students.

“The people who will really suffer with this budget are our kids,” Lansing School District teacher Alfonso Salais said. “We need to be investing in our kids and putting money back into the classroom. This budget tells our students that we don’t care about their future and that’s wrong. We need to save money anywhere we can so we have more to put back into schools. Canceling an unnecessary presidential primary will help save $10 millions and more than 200 teachers’ jobs and will provide a better education for our students in Michigan so they can compete in a global economy.”

Concluded Salais, “The savings of $10 million to invest in educational resources and other service-oriented professions, will provide concrete proof to the citizens of Michigan that their children’s future and the needs of the people are a priority.”

2 The bill passed unanimously in both chambers.

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