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Published: Wednesday, 11/28/2007

Primary election vote in Michigan still a hot topic


LANSING - The battle over what Michigan's presidential election will look like was still being fought yesterday, even as deadlines loomed for getting absentee ballot applications to overseas voters.

The GOP-controlled state Senate declined to take up a bill restoring the names of candidates John Edwards, Barack Obama, Bill Richardson, and Joe Biden to the Democratic ballot.

The lack of action angered some Democrats who wanted to have all eight of their candidates on the ballot.

Senate Majority Leader Mike Bishop (R., Rochester) said infighting among Democrats scuttled the vote, but Senate Minority Leader Mark Schauer (D., Battle Creek) called the decision a missed opportunity.

The four Democrats withdrew their names to satisfy Iowa and New Hampshire, which were unhappy Michigan was challenging their leadoff status on the primary calendar.

Unless the measure is taken up again, Michigan voters would see only Hillary Rodham Clinton, Dennis Kucinich, Chris Dodd, and Mike Gravel as choices on the Democratic ballot, while all eight Republican candidates would be on the GOP one.

The Democrat-controlled House on Monday passed the bill to put all eight Democrats on the ballot, but failed to come up with the two-thirds vote needed for it to take effect before the election.

The Democratic Party's executive committee last night overwhelmingly approved the Jan. 15 primary. The primary replaces an earlier plan under which the Democrats would have held a Feb. 9 presidential caucus.

Michigan Democratic Chairman Mark Brewer plans to file the primary plan with the Democratic National Committee today and it will be considered Saturday by the DNC Rules Committee.

The DNC likely will threaten to strip the party of its 128 national convention delegates for holding an election before Feb. 5, but Mr. Brewer thinks the delegates ultimately will be seated.

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