July 18, 2007
State Committee Members and County Chairs:
After months of work, meetings, hundreds of emails, and multiple drafts shared with statewide Republican leaders, the 2008 Presidential Selection Committee has passed a Resolution recommending the rules and procedures for how we determine the allocation of Michigan's delegates and alternates to the 2008 Republican National Convention. The Committee is sending their recommendation to the full State Committee for approval, and I have also asked the Policy Committee to offer their input on the recommendation.
Chair Norm Shinkle and the entire 2008 Presidential Selection Committee should be commended for their work on this important issue. Throughout the process, the Committee has had tremendous input from other leaders-Chuck Yob and Holly Hughes, Policy Committee Chair Glenn Clark, District Chairs and State Committee Members, County Chairs, and local activists-and that input has been invaluable to the Committee in crafting what I believe to be a very thoughtful, balanced and fair nomination process. I am confident that it will provide for a robust campaign here in Michigan and will make certain Michigan Republicans have a decisive say in selecting our nominee. I hope you will give the Committee's proposal some thoughtful consideration and support its eventual passage.
It is worth noting that this process actually started back in 2005 with the appointment of a Presidential Task Force that included 29 members from around the state that first came up with the recommendation to hold a joint, State-run primary, avoid an open primary and put together the consensus proposal that got us to where we are today. Then after the 2006 elections, we created a statutory committee as part of the State Committee to continue this work. Again, working towards consensus has been long, slow and deliberate.
The Committee recommendation along with a memo from Norm Shinkle outlining the significant provisions is attached, but allow me to briefly explain what the Committee recommended. A joint, State-run Primary with the Democrats on or before February 5 was, is and remains our preferred option. We are making progress on the legislative negotiations necessary to make this a reality and are more confident every day that an agreement can be reached. In fact, the State Senate Committee on Campaigns & Elections passed out our presidential primary bill today calling for a February 5, 2008 primary, but as we discussed, the Dems might force us to go early.
Because we cannot control the Legislature and because we cannot know with 100% certainty that an agreement will be reached, however, we must make arrangements for a back-up plan. The Committee looked at several different options, and with a great deal of deliberation, determined that a State Convention was the best back-up plan should an agreement on a primary not be reached. I will be very clear: I do not want to utilize the Convention option. I have said numerous times since this process began over two years ago that a joint primary on February 5 is my preferred option, as well as the preferred option of the overwhelming majority of our State Committee. But, we must have a back-up plan in place. The Convention is just that-a back-up plan that we will only use if we have to. It is not our first option, but our last resort, and I believe the "best" least desirable option. The Committee agreed last night and voted 13-2 to make the recommendation.
The Committee meeting last night involved over 35 people either in person or on the conference call, and a number of points and questions were raised. For the benefit of everyone, I would like to briefly address them here. We tried to come to a consensus on how to proceed, and I think a 13-2 vote with every district represented is a pretty good consensus.
Committee member Lori Babcock raised concerns, as I understand, about selecting delegates prior to February 5, which would result in our National Convention delegation being reduced by half. I share her concern and it is not my desire to lose delegates. However, the Committee recommendation makes the point, which I feel is a valid one, that if an agreement with the Democrats requires us to go before February 5, then so be it. Additionally, I want Michigan to be relevant in this process. If we go any time after February 5, there is little to no chance that we will be. The campaigns will also close up shop in Michigan, and we will not see presidential candidates at Mackinac or at fundraisers and events for our State and County Parties (maybe). We will also miss out on the momentum and grassroots organizations that will result from the campaigns operating in Michigan. We want their staffs here, helping to build our Party.
State Committee member Jack Holmes stated his opposition, as I understand, to a Convention method for determining the delegate allocation for the National Convention because the process limits participation. As I outlined above, I too do not favor the Convention method, but also realize we must have plans in place in the event we do not reach an agreement on the primary. The other options-a Party-run primary/caucus or an open primary on February 26-have even more problems than the Convention option. The costs, the logistics, the local responsibility, the lack of experience and general concern from all the presidential campaigns about the outcome and fairness ultimately resulted in the Committee unanimously rejecting this option. Local opposition was strong as well. The Convention option is the best choice from a list of last alternatives.
Policy Committee Chair Glenn Clark raised what I took as some concern over the priority given to precinct delegates to be seated as State Convention delegates and alternates, claiming that this provision would remove local control of the county's delegation. The intent of this provision is to simply place an added significance to the position of precinct delegate and to reward those folks who take the initiative to run for precinct delegate. While there may be some instances where some dedicated non-precinct delegate volunteers may be "left on the sidelines," this provision will strengthen our County Parties and will be an added benefit to our grassroots. It provides an added reason to be a precinct delegate and also ensures that delegates are not left behind purely because they share different views from their leadership.
Youth Vice Chair Matt Hall also expressed concern over the precinct delegate priority, stating, to my understanding, that the provision would prevent a county from sending 100% of their delegation committed to one presidential candidate. In fact, this is most likely what will happen, but I believe it is a benefit to the priority, not a shortcoming. This provision will prevent a "tyranny of the majority" while at the same time preserving the minority. While it is likely that one candidate will have more support in a county than another, this provision will simply prevent any one candidate from "stacking the deck" of the delegate list while passing over dedicated grassroots who have been duly elected as precinct delegates and workers just because they may support another candidate.
Some questioned whether we should give such a preference in principle. And in fact, we do give a type of preference at every County Convention, as elected officials and party nominees are automatic delegates to our County Conventions. The national rules make the same distinction by making Chuck, Holly and me automatic delegates to the National Convention due to the fact we are your elected representatives to the Republican National Committee.
In summation, I feel the Committee recommendation is a fair proposal that warrants your support. I urge you to please look over the recommendation carefully, ask your counties and districts for their input, and share that with the Committee. I have literally received hundreds of calls and emails with ideas and suggestions, and we have constantly tried to incorporate new ideas into the drafts you now have. As I mentioned, it is my intent to have the Policy Committee look over the recommendation and then hold an "information only" conference call with State Committee members and County Chairs to help answer any questions that might remain. Because we have to submit our final plan to the Republican National Committee by September 4, we need to be in a position to make a final recommendation at the August 25 State Committee meeting, and I want to make certain everyone has all the information they need to make an informed decision.
Coming up with a consensus means making compromises. We did so, and no provision or rule was passed over the strenuous objection of any member. In fact, a 13-2 vote clearly demonstrates the consensus and work that was done. I think it's fair to say the 2 objections were really over the "fall back" option, which again, we ALL agree we don't want...but we need something.
Again, thank you for your time, attention, and consideration of this
recommendation. With your input and leadership, I am certain Michigan Republicans
will play an historic role this election cycle.
Saulius "Saul" Anuzis,