Top Michigan Dems Want Primary Do-over In June

This story was written by Emily Barton, Michigan Daily
A committee of Michigan Democrats agreed Friday to promote a re-do of the Michigan Democratic primary that would likely be held June 3.

Sen. Carl Levin, Rep. Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick, Democratic National Committee Member Debbie Dingell and United Auto Workers President Ron Gettlefinger decided a new primary election is the best way to ensure Michigan's delegates are seated at the Democratic National Convention.

Speaking on Saturday at a breakfast hosted by the University of Michigan College Democrats, Gov. Jennifer Granholm stood on a chair and stressed the importance of holding a new state primary.

"We as a state really have an opportunity to make our voices heard by having a primary that allows us to come in compliance with the Democratic National Committee," she said.

Granholm asked the College Dems to show support by sending a resolution to the state Legislature asking for a new primary. She said the contest would bring more attention to Michigan's economic woes.

"If Michigan is able to get this done it means we will see these candidates here, we will see these candidates on campus in Michigan asking for peoples' votes," she said.

The Democratic National Committee stripped the state of its delegates when Michigan violated party rules by moving its primary to Jan. 15. As a show of good faith to voters in states like Iowa and New Hampshire, Democratic candidates agreed not to campaign in Michigan. All the top Democratic contenders besides Hillary Clinton subsequently removed their names from the ballot.

The other options remaining for a statewide contest include holding a statewide caucus, a mail-in caucus or primary and splitting the delegates evenly between Clinton and Barack Obama, who currently leads the race.

Granholm has said the state won't fund another election, meaning a primary would need to be paid for by the Democratic Party and private donors.

"The focus of the committee on the possibility of a state-run, privately funded primary is a good first step toward resolving the issue of seating a Michigan delegation at the Democratic National Convention," said Mark Brewer, chair of the Michigan Democratic Party, in a statement.

The primary would to cost between $8 million and $12 million. It must still be approved by the DNC, the Clinton and Obama campaigns, Granholm and the state Legislature.

Although he said he thinks the primary plan will ultimately pass, Political Science Prof. Michael Traugott said the biggest obstacle would be getting the approval of the state legislature, which has a Republican majority in the House of Representatives and a Democratic majority in the Senate.

"I don't think the Republicans have a strong interest in helping out the Democrats," Traugott said.

Traugott said he thinks a state-run primary is the best option for seating the delegates.

"It'd be much better than having the party run it," he said. "Elections are a job that should be handled by professionals and not by amateurs."

According to DNC rules, a new election must be held before June 10 for the delegates to be seated. The state legislature has until Thursday to approve the proposed primary before they leave for their spring break.

In an interview on Saturday, Dingell said she hopes Michigan's situation will ultimately help change the nominating system.

"We're preparing to do a floor fight because we think the principle is right, we've got to win this election in November," she said. "We will pull together."
© 2008 Michigan Daily via U-WIRE
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