Won’t someone please stop the madness? According to sources inside both parties, the two state parties in Michigan have agreed to move the state’
August 19, 2007

Won’t someone please stop the madness?

According to sources inside both parties, the two state parties in Michigan have agreed to move the state’s primary — legislatively — to Jan. 15. This is a compromise date out of respect for Democratic Sen. Carl Levin, who really wanted to move the primary to Jan. 8. Others wanted the primary on Jan. 22 as a way to, essentially, play ball with the other early states. There was a nice window being created for a Jan. 22, 2008 event. But by moving to Jan. 15, this will put pressure on the other early states to either entertain a December event or lobby the two national parties to not sanction Michigan at all.

The state senate is going to move a bill next week and it will be legislatively driven; the state will pay for the primary, not the two parties.

The calendar was a mess anyway, but it’s reached a whole new level. Florida thumbed its nose at the national parties and picked Jan. 29, which threw the chessboard into the air. And now Michigan has blown up the chessboard, sending DNC and RNC officials reaching for the Maalox.

What happens now? It’s an unpleasant situation, which is likely to get worse.

If New Hampshire insists on a week-long buffer between it and the subsequent primary, and it does, the Granite State will have to vote by Jan. 8. Iowa could either accept a smaller buffer and vote in the first week in January, keep the buffer and vote in December, or allow New Hampshire to vote before Iowa (which is highly unlikely).

And then, of course, there’s South Carolina, which expected the marquee post-NH vote, and which may not look kindly on Michigan’s power play.

What’s more, several huge states (California, New York, New Jersey, Illinois) agreed to Feb. 5 based on mandates from the national parties. If Michigan and Florida have announced, “We no longer care about the parties’ ‘rules,’” what’s to stop other states from blowing off the agreed-upon Feb. 5 threshold? Absolutely nothing.

Michigan’s Carl Levin has been talking about destroying the primary calendar for a while now, and it looks like he’ll get his wish. The status quo is now, officially, broken. A massive overhaul is inevitable in advance of 2012. (I know, you’ve heard that before, in previous cycles, but it’s never been this broken before.)

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