Opinion: It’s Michigan’s turn to spotlight the Dems’ best presidential hopefuls


The Democratic National Committee finally stood up to the Iowa caucus foolishness last week and stripped the state of its early presidential selection spot.

It’s about time. It’s too bad it took Iowa Democrats making a dog’s lunch out of their 2020 presidential process (are the results final yet?) before it happened. 

This horse-and-carriage relic of multi-hour browbeating and cajoling neighbors in hundreds of high school gyms should have ceased to be glamorized as Americana years ago. 

But it’s finally here. Thank God.

South Carolina, the state that propelled President Joe Biden to the ‘20 nomination, will become the Democrats’ first primary selection state on Feb. 3, 2024. New Hampshire and Nevada (which ended their caucuses last year) will hold their primaries on Feb. 6. Georgia will go on Feb. 13.

Then, here comes Michigan. The remaining presidential candidates will have two uninterrupted weeks to make their case to Michiganders before our Feb. 27 primary.

For those still in the race, Michigan will be the last stand before Super Tuesday.

The setup doesn’t mean much for Democrats in 2024 if Biden is serious about running for reelection. It’s hard to imagine serving in the world’s most important position at age 86. 

But let’s not get off track. Biden would, at best, face token opposition, making the whole primary carousel a perfunctory exercise. 

If he’s not running again, Michigan becomes a proving ground where one or more candidates likely will end their dreams of becoming president. Folks like Michiganders’ Gov. Gretchen Whitmer or “Mayor” Pete Buttigieg could see a big push if the dominos fall the right way and one or both are in field.

If the new schedule works out and the DNC sticks with it long term, this is a big change.

Every four years, Michigan will be under the bright, hot national spotlight. There’ll likely be a nationally televised debate here. Millions of dollars spent on TV, radio and digital media ads. There will be more mailers, door knockers, visits to the Fleetwood Diner and other eateries. 

Michigan issues could be perennially talked about front and center as long as we don’t mess up like Iowa.

Plus, our odds of shaking a future president’s hand goes WAY up. That would be cool.

For Republicans, proactively pushing a switch doesn’t benefit them. Last week, the Republican-led Senate passed a Feb. 6, 2024, presidential primary date as part of a deal with Whitmer.

The deal has fallen apart for unrelated reasons.

The Republican-led House has no incentive to move it to Whitmer’s desk. Changing the primary puts Republicans crossways with the Republican National Committee, which approved a Super Tuesday primary for Michigan months ago.

Anything earlier puts dozens of Michigan delegate spots at risk. Even if the 2024 Republican presidential selection process isn’t competitive, Michigan could be deprived of delegate designations that many grassroots leaders cherish.

It’ll be up to the Democratic-led House and Senate to change the date to Feb. 6, 2024, and they will. Republicans would prefer it that way. They don’t have to vote for it. It’s out of their hands. Yet, they could still benefit from it.

Michigan Republicans could tell RNC Chair Ronna McDaniel and the rest of the RNC that the primary date got changed because of Democrats. There was nothing they could do to stop it. 

But … since the Democrats made the change, the Republicans probably should do it, too.

After all, giving the eventual Democratic candidates two weeks of uncontested public attention hurts the Republicans’ chances of winning the Great Lakes State on Nov. 5, 2024. A good Republican doesn’t want that.

Really, any Michigander who likes politics — regardless of party — has to like Michigan being moved to the front of the line for presidential primaries.

Michigan should celebrate and take seriously this opportunity. We need to properly vet and highlight the best candidates when they come.

We need to advance their chances to lead this country. 

It’s a responsibility this state is ready for.


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