2024 Democratic presidential primary still far from settled in Michigan


Remember when Gov. Gretchen Whitmer proudly proclaimed that on Feb. 27 Michigan would have the nation’s fifth Democratic presidential primary of 2024.

Michigan had been moved up the calendar along with Georgia to join South Carolina, Nevada and New Hampshire as the key states charged with thinning out future presidential primaries?

Well … hopefully you didn’t write down that date in indelible ink.

The Democratic National Committee’s grand plan to shake up the presidential primary system is hitting enough snags that the whole thing could unravel by the fall. One reason has to do with the Michigan Senate having enough Republican members to throw a wrench into the whole thing.

Earlier this year, the DNC told Iowa that it didn’t want any more of its first-in-nation caucus stuff after they made a dog’s lunch out of its 2020 contest.

Instead, it rewarded South Carolina for clearing Joe Biden’s path to the White House three years ago by elevating the Palmetto State to having the first 2024 Democratic presidential primary, on Feb. 3.

New Hampshire and Nevada would share the next contest on Feb. 6. Georgia’s would follow on Feb. 13 and Michigan would be next with a Feb. 27 date. Super Tuesday, with several other states, would be March 5.

The Republican National Committee was not consulted, which was the first problem. The Republicans decided last year that they weren’t messing with their primary calendar. 

The GOP schedule has Iowa’s caucus on Jan. 8 and primaries in New Hampshire on Jan. 16, South Carolina Jan. 27 and Nevada Feb. 6. Michigan would be sometime in March with many others.

New Hampshire’s state law requires that it have the first primary in the country. Its GOP Legislature isn’t changing the law. A state could move its primary to New Year’s Day. New Hampshire would hold its primary on Christmas.

Next, Georgia has decided that it’s not interested in moving its calendar around. The GOP-led Legislature in the Peach State told its secretary of state this month that it will be March 12. That is that.

Why did Georgia do that? For the same reason Republicans in Michigan don’t want to hold a primary on Feb. 27.

The RNC’s penalty for states that hold primaries before March 1 is a loss of 85% of a state’s delegates and hotel rooms an hour away from the national convention site.

Michigan Republicans went through this back in 2008. The RNC is serious about cutting the delegation. For grassroots Republicans who are shafted from a delegate post, this is a big deal.

Michigan needs to pass a law to change its primary date from the second Tuesday in March.

In the Senate, a bill needs 26 votes to be effective immediately after it’s signed into law. There are 20 Democratic members. That means six Republicans are needed or the change will not take effect until 90 days after the Legislature goes out of session.

The Democratic Senate could adjourn in September as opposed to December. That would make a change in the primary law effective in time for February. But Senate Democrats haven’t been in power for 40 years. They don’t want to end their session early and cede their authority for the rest of the year to the governor. That’s what would happen.

Senate Minority Leader Aric Nesbitt, R-Lawton, says if Democrats want to hold an early primary election on Saturday, March 2, he’s good with that.

The RNC wouldn’t penalize Michigan’s delegation. Michigan could still be an earlier state. More people could, theoretically, participate in the voting process since it would be on the weekend.

The local clerks probably wouldn’t like working the weekend, but with nine days of early voting now in our Constitution, clerks are working Saturdays around Election Day anyway.

Besides, if Biden is really running for election and his re-nomination is a fait de accompli, what difference does it matter to Democrats if the election is Feb. 27, March 2 or June 2?

Maybe the date will get moved to June 2. Who knows?

As of now, nobody knows for sure what day Michigan’s 2024 presidential primary election will be.


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