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Monday, August 20, 2007
posted by Devon Murphy | 8:42 PM | permalink
By now you may have heard the latest in the primary arms race, with the Wolverine State weaseling its way into what might have otherwise been a stabilized calendar. Previously:

1/5 – IA caucuses
1/12 – NH primary, WY caucuses
1/19 – SC primary, Nevada caucuses
1/29 – FL primary

According to inside sources, the two state parties in Michigan have agreed to move the state's primary legislatively (so as to avoid national party sanctions for pre-empting Feb 5) to Jan. 15.

Making things even more interesting, indications are that this will be a closed primary, requiring voters to request their registered party’s ballot.

"It ensures maximum participation by Republican activists and supporters. Although going on Jan. 15 is not our first choice, we will join with the Democrats and hold our primary on that day." -- MI GOP Chairman Saul Anuzis

It's estimated that a primary could draw a million votes for each party. A statewide primary would cost $10 million.

The Rev. Jesse Jackson won an open primary in 1988, an outcome not viewed favorably by Democratic Party leaders who said Jackson was the beneficiary of crossover voters who wanted only to tamper with the Democratic presidential nomination process.
Republicans feel they got burned in an open primary in 2000, when Arizona Sen. John McCain was an upset winner over party establishment favorite George W. Bush. GOP leaders said independents and Democrats tilted the vote to McCain.

So, who wins and who loses with a closed MI primary on Jan 15? While Governor Romney has yet to decisively take the lead in MI polls (as he has done in IA and NH), he has several strengths there over the more liberal Rudy Giuliani. And while McCain won the state in 2000, any stumble in Michigan’s closed, early, and expensive primary will serve to remind the public that not only has McCain lost his comparatively spry 64 year old mojo, but he has trouble wooing the Republican base.


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