Michigan Will Hold the First Primary

It’s set for January 15th, once Governor Granholm signs on, which she is expected to do. So that means my husband and I along with all other voting Michiganders will be voting in our primary before anyone else in the country, until New Hampshire and Iowa move theirs up, that is.

Michigan leaped to the head of the presidential primary lineup Thursday, setting a Jan. 15 election that could become the biggest primary in state history and a key battleground for the Republican and Democratic nominations.

But Michigan’s move — supported by large majorities in the state House and Senate and backed by Gov. Jennifer Granholm — will almost certainly be countered by other states, especially Iowa and New Hampshire, which are intent on preserving their traditional primacy in the presidential selection process.

Assuming Granholm approves the measure as expected, Michigan — for now — would have the first primary and third nominating contest, behind caucuses for Wyoming Republicans on Jan. 5 and for both parties Jan. 14 in Iowa.

Lawmakers supporting the move said it was crucial that Michigan concerns be placed on the national agenda and before the presidential candidates as soon as possible.

“When they’re making promises … we want to make sure they’re not just making promises to Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina,” said state Senate Minority Leader Mark Schauer, D-Battle Creek.

State Elections Director Chris Thomas predicted that a Jan. 15 primary would attract more voters than previous presidential primaries. The previous record came in 1972, when Alabama Gov. George Wallace bested George McGovern and Hubert Humphrey on the Democratic side of a contest that drew 1.9 million voters.

Now the question is, will the National Democratic Party try to sanction the Michigan Democratic Party in the same way it sanctioned Florida’s. Larry Sabato thinks it’s all a bluff:

Florida, which moved its primary to Jan. 29 — also in violation of national Democratic Party rules — was sanctioned last week with the loss of all its delegates. But longtime political observers say it’s an empty threat that the delegates wouldn’t vote or count at the national convention.

Larry Sabato, director of the University of Virginia’s Center for Politics, predicted that no matter what the national party threatens, the votes of Michigan and Florida Democrats will count at the national convention. The states have too many delegates to ignore, he said.

“I think it’s all a bluff,” he said. “They realize this system is insane, but they don’t have the clout to do it.”

Sabato said the only thing that is going to matter to any nominee is winning in November — and that means bringing voters in Michigan and Florida along for the ride, whether the national party likes it or not.

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