Monday, May 28, 2018
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Revote could offer Michigan a final say


'I don't think [a second primary] will make a difference,' says Monroe County Democratic Chairman Denise Brooks, unfurling bunting that is among items donated to her Monroe office.


It's not often that people get to vote twice in the same election, but it could happen this year for Michigan Democrats.

If the plan does come together, Michigan Democrats, who voted in an unsanctioned primary election Jan. 15, could vote again June 3.

That would give Michigan, along with Montana and South Dakota, the final word in choosing between Illinois Sen. Barack Obama and New York Sen. Hillary Clinton, who are just a little more than 100 Democratic convention delegates apart, with 863 delegates still to be awarded.

Four prominent Mich-igan Democrats announced a tentative plan Friday to have a revote primary on June 3, but numerous details remain.

It's a development that finally could give Michigan the political attention its state Democratic Party sought when it bucked the Democratic National Committee by scheduling its primary before Super Tuesday on Feb. 5.

Some suspect the moment for Michigan to influence the presidential nomination might have passed.

"I don't think it will make a difference," said Denise Brooks, chairman of the Monroe County Democratic Party. "Probably it would have if they would have let the original primary date stand. I'm really afraid the state will just be split like everybody else. I've heard a lot of people say, 'Why don't they just split it.'•"

Ms. Brooks said one good outcome of a June revote would be that Senator Clinton and Senator Obama and their surrogates will come to Michigan to give voters a chance to see them up close.

With the primaries and caucuses of 45 states and territories already in the can, and 10 left to vote - not including Michigan and Florida, Mr. Obama maintains a lead of 106 delegates over Mrs. Clinton, according to the Associated Press.

Counting both pledged delegates and super delegates who have committed to a candidate, Mr. Obama has 1,603 delegates to Mrs. Clinton's 1,497, with 85 either uncommitted or pledged to John Edwards, who has dropped out of the race.

The winner will need 2,025 delegates to get the nomination to face presumptive Republican nominee John McCain in the general election.

Ohio's 141 pledged delegates were awarded based on the March 4 primary. Including those super delegates from the state who have committed, Mrs. Clinton has 78 and Mr. Obama has 69, leaving 15 uncommitted, including U.S. Rep. Marcy Kaptur of Toledo.

Michigan has 128 pledged delegates and 28 super delegates, who are barred from voting in the convention unless the current negotiations end in some agreement to seat the state's delegates.

Florida's delegates were also barred from the convention because Florida held its primary Jan. 29. Negotiations are under way to seat Florida's delegates as well.

Unlike Michigan, all the candidates' names were on the Florida primary ballot. In Michigan, only Mrs. Clinton's name appeared on the ballot. She won 55 percent of the vote, to 40 percent for "uncommitted" - the only choice available for supporters of Mr. Obama and Mr. Edwards.

Rep. Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick (D., Detroit), along with Democratic National Committee member Debbie Dingell, Sen. Carl Levin, and United Auto Workers President Ron Gettelfinger, announced Friday the agreement to hold a state-run, election, possibly on June 3.

They still need agreement from the two campaigns and the Democratic National Committee.

"This option would require the passage of legislation by the state Legislature, and we look forward to working with the members of the Legislature in the coming days to see if this option can be made a reality," the Democrats said.

One essential element, laid down by Michigan Republicans who control the state Senate, is that the party - not Michigan taxpayers - must put up the estimated $10 million to $12 million to pay for the election.

Elizabeth Kerr, a spokesman for the Michigan Democratic Party, said having 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."

Ms. Kerr said turnout in a June 3 election could dramatically eclipse prior primary turnouts of 165,000 in 2004 and 600,000 in January.

An election June 3 could attract 1 million or more voters - a huge election for the party to manage on its own.

"To staff that many places doing something we've never done before - it's a job for paid staff," Ms. Kerr said.

"We certainly believe that any process to increase the likelihood that a Democrat becomes president of the United States is good for Michigan and good for Michigan voters," she said.

Ms. Kerr rejected the idea that Michigan broke the rules and deserved to be punished. She said New Hampshire also moved its primary date.

"It's not fair that New Hampshire's not getting penalized and we are," Ms. Kerr said. "We don't care if Michigan goes first. We want the stranglehold that Iowa and New Hampshire have on this process to be broken."

Michigan voters wanting to cast ballots in the new primary would have to identify themselves as Democrats and certify that they did not vote in the state's Republican primary in January.

Michigan normally does not require party identification in primary elections.

Holding a revote was not popular among Mrs. Clinton's supporters, who said the Jan. 15 vote should have been counted since Mr. Obama was not required to pull his name from the ballot.

Some say rank-and-file Democrats will feel cheated if their delegates aren't seated at the national convention.

Rosemarie Schneider, chairman of the Hillsdale County Democratic Party, said the average Democratic voter should not be punished because party officials couldn't agree on a presidential primary schedule.

"Our local group has discussed it and most of them seem quite favorable to the idea of a do-over or some kind of a vote," Mrs. Schneider said.

Kenneth Hollowell, chairman of the Congressional District 14 Democratic Party, covering portions of Detroit, Dearborn, and downriver Wayne County, said "a substantial portion" of his membership wants the delegates to be seated as they were voted on Jan. 15.

"The important thing is to seat the Michigan delegates as well as the Florida delegates at the convention," Mr. Hollowell said.

Bill Ballenger, publisher of the Inside Michigan Politics newsletter, said he doesn't see any benefit in a do-over for anybody but Mrs. Clinton.

"I think there's a long way to go before there's going to be any do-over of any sort, unless Barack Obama and the Republican Party have totally lost their minds," Mr. Ballenger said.

He questioned whether an election held at the end of the primary season - rather than the beginning, where it would affect expectations and momentum of candidates - will have any effect.

He noted that even for Republicans, Michigan's early primary made no difference in the outcome. Native son Mitt Romney won the primary but had to drop out when he didn't follow up with victories in other states.

"The Republicans made no difference. McCain won the nomination despite Michigan, and on the Democratic side all it's done is create a mess. It certainly hasn't made a difference," he said.

Contact Tom Troy at: or 419-724-6058.

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