January 15 presidential primary violated the rules of both national
parties, and the parties imposed penalties, reducing their delegations
to the national conventions. Democrats in particular
underwent many trials and tribulations in determining their
delegation. The story is closely tied to Sen. Carl Levin (D)'s spirited
and protracted effort to challenge New Hampshire's
Levin was the driving force behind a resolution approved by the 2004 Democratic National Convention calling for creation of the DNC Commission on Presidential Nomination Timing and Scheduling (background). The Commission met during 2005 and issued modest recommendations at its final meeting in December, including the recommendation that new pre-window states be added to the calendar to increase diversity in the early phase of the campaign. In April 2006 Michigan Democrats applied to the DNC for Michigan to be one of the new early pre-window states (application); however the DNC ultimately approved Nevada and South Carolina.
Democrats set a
caucus date of February 9, 2008, but Michigan Democratic Party chairman
Brewer warned in a March 2007 that that could change. “There is
also a consensus among our
that if any state schedules its caucus or primary in violation of the
rules, Michigan will move its Caucus to an earlier date. That
date may be on or before the date of the offending state’s caucus or
On June 11,
2007 Florida Democrats announced
plans to hold their primary on January 29, 2008 (press
release), in violation of DNC
prompting Mark Brewer to repeat his vow to go early. "December is
a possibility for us," Brewer told The Detroit News, saying he
wait to see what developed. (See: Gordon Trowbridge. "State
Dem chief: We'll vote early." The Detroit News.
12, 2007). In August 2007 the New Hampshire Secretary of State
indicated his intention to hold the state's primary in advance of the
January 19, 2008 date set out in the DNC rules.
On August 25, 2007
Brewer presented Michigan's plan for
February 9 caucuses, complete with three methods of voting: at 219
around the state, by mail, or by Internet, to the DNC Rules and Bylaws
Committee. However, events were moving on another track. On August 22, 2007, the
Senate approved by a vote of 21 to 17 S.B.
624, which, as amended, required a statewide presidential primary
on January 15, 2008 (the original bill set a date of January 29) (reactions).
On August 30, the Democratic-controlled House passed the legislation by
vote of 67 to 34, and the same day the Senate passed a concurred
of the bill (letter
to candidates). Gov. Jennifer Granholm (D) signed the measure
into law on
September 4 (press
pointed to "New Hampshire’s stated intent to move their primary before
January 19th, in direct violation of the DNC rules," as a rationale for
participating in the January 15 primary, despite the prospect of
and Sen. Levin also weighed in (letter).
Despite Michigan Democrats
efforts to encourage campaigning in the state, the major
candidates had pledged
not to "campaign or participate in any state which schedules a
election primary or caucus before February 5, 2008, except for the
Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire and South Carolina" (pledge).
The Democratic and
Republican state party
had a September 11, 2007 to submit to the Secretary of State names of
potential nominees for the
presidential primary [M.C.L. 168.614a(1) as amended under PA 52 of
chair Mark Brewer submitted
names to the Secretary of State to appear on the ballot (Biden,
Dodd, Edwards, Gravel, Kucinich, Obama, Richardson).
nominees so listed who did not want to appear on the ballot could
an affidavit with the Secretary of State by 4:00 p.m. on October
Five?Four Democrats did so: Biden, Edwards, ?Kucinich, Obama and
Adding to the confusion, the law
setting the January 15 primary was challenged. On October 24
Grebner, an East Lansing political consultant, filed suit challenging
constitutionality of a provision of the law granting exclusive rights
voter lists to the Democratic and Republican parties (related).
In November 2007 Ingham County Circuit Court Chief Judge William E.
issued an order prohibiting the January 15 primary. The Court of
upheld the ruling on November 16. There were efforts to pass a
remedy and the parties prepared back-up plans (press
release). Finally on November 21 the Michigan Supreme Court
the lower court rulings (reactions).
The ACLU also weighed in on January 11, 2008, filing suit in the U.S.
Court in Detroit challenging the constitutionality of the law, but the
primary went ahead.
On November 27, after New Hampshire moved its primary to January 8, Michigan submitted a revised delegate selection plan with the January 15 primary date.
endured some uncertainty, but the GOP candidates
did campaign in Michigan. The state party had established
a 2008 Presidential Selection Committee (resolution).
Michigan Republican Party Chairman Saul Anuzis noted that, "A joint,
State-run Primary with the
on or before February 5 was, is and remains our preferred option" (message).
However, given the Democrats' uncertainty, there was also a proposal to
hold a State Convention as
best back-up plan should an agreement on a primary not be reached"
On July 17 the MI GOP's 2008 Presidential Selection Committee voted
to recommend a State Convention as the best back-up plan (a
reaction), but the Policy Committee voted
against that recommendation. When the January 15 presidential
came under legal challenge, Republicans looked to hold a state
on January 25-26, 2008 (press
release). There was some talk about whether a convention
benefit one or another of the candidates, but the point became moot
the state Supreme Court's November 21 ruling.
Meanwhile RNC and the
DNC imposed penalties on the respective state parties for setting their
primary too early in violation of party rules. On
22, 2007 the RNC Executive Committee voted to penalize New Hampshire,
South Carolina, Michigan and Wyoming by half their delegates to the the
Republican National Convention for starting their delegate selection in
advance of February 5, 2008. At its
on December 1, 2007 the DNC Rules and Bylaws Committee
denied Michigan Democrats' request for a waiver and voted
to penalize them 100 percent of their delegates (press release).
(At its August 25, 2007 meeting the Rules and Bylaws Committee had
imposed a 100 percent penalty on Florida).
results showed 594,398 votes cast in the Democratic primary on January 15;
Clinton obtained 55 percent and Uncommitted 40 percent. On the Republican side
Romney won with 38.9 percent of the 869,169 votes cast.
|Press Releases on the Revote
March 5 - Florida and Michigan Governors: "Don’t Silence 5,163,271 Americans" >
March 5 - DNC: "Dean Statement on Florida and Michigan" >
March 7 - Sen. Levin: "Statement on Michigan Delegate Dispute">
March 12 - Hillary Clinton for President: letter, press release on seating delegates from FL and MI. >
March 12 - Obama Michigan co-chairs: "Vote by Mail Not an Option" >
March 14-17 - Various statements >
March 19 - Groups weigh in: Michigan Change to Win, Michigan GOP >
March 19 - Hillary Clinton for President: "Obama’s Re-Vote Pledge: Just Words" >
March 20 - Gov. Jennifer Granholm: "We will turn our attention to other options" >
March 26 - Clinton and Obama campaigns: statements following U.S. District Court ruling >
March 31 - Rep. Stupak proposal >
April 4 - Various statements >
The Working Group then came up
with a "split the difference" allocation compromise proposal between
the 50-50 split advocated by Obama and the split reflective of the
primary results advocated by Clinton. The Michigan Democratic
Party executive committee approved this proposal on May 7 (press
release). On May 12 the Michigan Democratic Party filed a
the DNC Rules and Bylaws Committee seeking to seat the full 157-member
delegation at the Convention in Denver, with the pledged delegates
allocated according to the compromise proposal (challenge,
The Rules and Bylaws Committee (RBC) took up the Florida and Michigan
challenges at its tense, closely watched meeting on May 31. The
Michigan situation was seen as the more difficult of the two because of
the fact that unlike in Florida not all the candidates had been on the
ballot; it was a flawed primary. The RBC accepted the state
party's compromise on allocation, over the strong protests of Clinton
advisor Harold Ickes, but it could not let the violation of the window
go unpunished. While Michigan would send a full delegation to the
convention, the RBC determined that each delegate would only get half a
However, in an August 3 letter
presumptive nominee Sen. Obama urged the Credentials Committee, when it
meets on August 24, to grant the Michigan and Florida convention
delegations the “full vote” in the interests of party unity (letter).
ema 06/02/08 updated 08/03/08
|Copyright © 2008 Eric M. Appleman/Democracy in Action.||