Question 1): A panel within the Democratic National Committee (DNC) last Friday approved an historic resolution providing Michigan a waiver to host its Democratic presidential primary on Feb. 27, 2024.
The DNC’s Rules and Bylaws Committee’s action would make Michigan the fifth state in line in the Democratic presidential nominating process. Under this scenario, South Carolina will host the first Democratic primary on Feb. 3, 2024, New Hampshire and Nevada will share the Feb. 6 slot, Georgia will hold theirs on Feb. 13, and then comes Michigan on Feb. 27. Next, the DNC will need to ratify the new dates in early 2023, with Democrats from Iowa and New Hampshire remaining vocal in their fierce defense of their traditional slots, which would be threatened under the new set-up.
But for all this to come into play, Michigan would have to change its law to move its 2024 primary from the second Tuesday in March to Feb. 27, 2024.
Such a move is already underway. With legislation that passed in the Michigan Senate 34-1 on Nov. 29, Michigan’s presidential primary election would be moved from the second Tuesday of March to the second Tuesday of February, which would be earlier than Feb. 27.
So that bill, SB 1207 , would need to be modified before being sent to the desk of Gov. Gretchen Whitmer if lawmakers wish to host a statewide election on the date assigned to Michigan by the DNC.
However, if SB 1207 is enacted as now written or slightly amended, Michigan Republicans would pay a price with a loss of delegates to their 2024 national convention.
So, the questions are: Do the state House Republicans, who still control both the state House and Senate until Dec. 31, “play ball” with their Democratic opposition to give President Joe Biden and Democrats at both the state and national levels what they want, even if it might mean the Michigan GOP will suffer the consequences? Can legislative Republicans somehow reach a “bargain” with Dems that would give the GOP SOMETHING out of this deal? Why would Democrats want to make a deal with legislative Republicans now when they know that, beginning in January, they will control the law-making process entirely because they will have majorities in both chambers as well as a Democratic governor who will sign anything they send her?
Answer 1): Democrats have no reason to barter with Republicans now since they can get everything they want in little more than a month. The Michigan GOP is most at risk of being penalized by the Republican National Committee (RNC) if SB 1207 is successfully signed into law, as the RNC has already set its primary schedule with Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina at the forefront of its calendar. Do Democrats care? No.
Keith SCHIPPER, a communications aide at the RNC, confirmed to MIRS newsletter that the national GOP already set their calendar this past spring, and the rules cannot be changed until the summer 2024 Republican National Convention in Milwaukee.
According to background sources obtained by MIRS, Michigan Republicans have two options to best safeguard their number of delegates. The state by law could agree to finance and conduct a separate election day for the Republican presidential primary in 2024, or, more likely, the Michigan Republican Party could run its own separate convention or caucus-style nominating election.
In 2020, during the first re-election campaign of former President Donald TRUMP, Michigan was represented by 73 delegates. If Republicans in Michigan decide to participate in a presidential primary before March, 2024, Republican National Committeeman Rob Steele told MIRS that “the Republican rules say that we will be significantly penalized as to how many delegates we get at the convention.” If Republicans jump in line, the number of the party’s delegates to the 2024 GOP National Convention could drop to as low as 12.
Matt Grossman, a political scientist at Michigan State Univertsity, told MIRS that “Yes, (passage of the bill) may mean a reduction in the number of (Republican) delegates (to the GOP national convention), but the total delegates submitted by the state are not really the main role of the early states, (which) is to impact elections in other states and get candidates to drop out, so (Michigan) can still have a very influential role in the process even if, officially, (Michigan Republicans will have) reduced their delegate share.”
In other words, Passage of an amended SB 1207 could mean that losing delegates is a small price to pay for Michigan Republicans being able to have greater influence over how their presidential candidates mold their strategies — provided the candidates agree to participate.
We should remember, too, that, in 2008, Michigan held a Democratic presidential primary on Jan. 15 without a waiver to do so from the DNC. After the Dems’ national committee originally stripped all of Michigan’s 156 delegates at the time, the DNC Rules and Bylaws Committee decided Michigan could have 78 votes at the national committee. That’s usually what happens. The party’s eventual nominee (in 2008, it was Barack Obama) doesn’t want any state angry with him or his party because he allowed that state to be penalized by loss of delegates.
When Biden attempted to run for president in 2008, his campaign called Michigan’s January primary a “beauty contest” and withdrew, along with Obama and several others, from participating. Hillary Clinton stayed in the contest and won it over a weak field, but in the end that turned out to be irrelevant when Obama secured the nomination.
Grossmann opined that Republicans might be reacting more quietly to Michigan’s possible election changes because “they obviously don’t want to be in a position of making Michigan (voters of all stripes) mad.” After all, Michigan is still considered a swing state, and the electorate could remember and punish the GOP in November, 2024, if it sees Republicans as obstructionists.
Delegates elected to Michigan Republicans’ 2023 state convention this coming February may also have another motive to ignore the state’s new 2024 presidential primary date (assuming there is one) and to opt out of a 2024 presidential primary altogether. Right now, it would appear a majority of the delegates to the February, 2023, conclave will be devotees of former President Donald Trump, who has announced he is pursuing the 2024 presidential nomination. So, the delegates at their session two months from now could change the party’s rules and substitute a 2024 convention or caucus to select the party’s delegates to the 2024 GOP national convention. That may give Trump a better chance to win a plurality, if not a majority, of the state’s delegation than would a primary, which Democrats and Independents would be allowed to vote in and “meddle” with the GOP’s choice of a nominee.
Question 2): Former Republican Attorney General nominee Matt DePERNO and former Secretary of State nominee Kristina KARAMO were among the Republicans to meet the first deadline for state party chair candidates when they submitted at least four signatures from the 13 GOP Congressional district chairs by the end of last week..
Other big-name potential candidates – such as former U.S. Rep. Pete HOEKSTRA, Congressional candidate Lena EPSTEIN, and gubernatorial nominee Tudor DIXON — have not yet filed, but they could still get in with the signatures of 8 of the 13 district chairs by a later deadline.
But wait! There are at least three other candidates, at this point. According to MIRS, they are:
— “Cool” Mike FIRAGE, the president of the Grand Rapids Taxpayers Association, who led a successful effort to create term limits for the Grand Rapids City Commission. He’s also run for several local offices in the Grand Rapids area.
— JD GLASER, an IT specialist who worked with the Kalamazoo Electoral Action Team to strengthen election integrity and election law enforcement.
— Kent BOERSEMA, a Ravenna Village Trustee who once was the clerk in Sand Lake. He’s a private security guard who once interned for former state Senator Dave HILDENBRAND.
Three other people, including Epstein, have pulled papers for chair. As many as 10 have expressed interest (See “Karamo Adds Her Name To Record Number Of GOP candidates,” 11/30/22).
So, what does this plethora of candidates to be next chair of the Michigan Republican Party mean? Is it the sign of a healthy party with a top prize worth getting? Or is it a sign of disarray, especially with so many “loser” aspirants who have never shown that they can win anything and have little or no no ability to raise money, unlike the current chairman, Ron Weiser, or one of his predecessors, Bobby Shostak?
Answer 2): The Michigan Republican Party IS in disarray, with different factions warring with each other. It is unprecedented to have this many candidates currently vying for the party’s top job. Obviously, many of these will drop by the wayside long before the February MRP convention; of those who insist they’re in it till the end, most will never make it to the starting gate. What the Republicans need but don’t have is somebody who can unite all the disparate factions by threading a needle that binds together the Donald TRUMP wing of the party and the ‘establishment’ and traditional conservatives and big-hitter fundraisers who basically sat out the last election after being unmotivated even to vote — much less raise money — because flawed candidates like DePerno and Karamo were among the party’s nominees for the state’s top constitutional offices.
Hoekstra has some shot at the nomination if he files papers, but he could be an early casualty. Hoekstra could still turn out to be a player at the convention if he were to throw any support he has to somebody else who could unite the disputatious factions.
As for Hoekstra’s announced request to Donald Trump to not endorse in the race, we know that Trump accepts advice from nobody, including Hoekstra. Trump generally takes advice only from himself .
Bottom line: The Michigan Republican Party is farther removed from being ‘united’ than at any time since George Romney arrived on the scene in the early 1960s. Trump is obviously poison to a lot of the electorate, yet a majority of the delegates to the February conclave are likely to be Trump acolytes. It will take a near miracle for the GOP to ‘pull a rabbit out of the hat’ by uniting behind some ‘healer’ who can pull the fratricidal warring camps together in time for 2024.