State GOP to decide this weekend on "closed" primary or caucus

Aug 11, 2011

The Michigan Republican Party State Committee will decide this weekend whether to hold a “closed” primary or caucus to choose the state’s Republican nominee for the 2012 presidential election. Last month, the party’s policy committee recommended a “closed” primary. From the Detroit News:

Many Republicans from the party's conservative tea party wing, who support candidates such as Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota or Rep. Ron Paul of Texas, prefer a caucus — based on party meetings at the precinct level — to determine the presidential delegates and believe a primary favors frontrunner Mitt Romney, who appeals to a broader political spectrum.

But the prospect of holding a handful of recall elections for GOP and Democratic state lawmakers at the same time as a presidential primary expected to draw far more Republicans than Democrats is a recent development that's making the primary more attractive…

Still, the primary — paid for by taxpayers at an estimated cost of $10 million — will be "closed" in name only. Nothing would stop Democrats from requesting a Republican ballot and meddling in the GOP presidential selection process. That meddling could be significant if an effort to recall Republican Gov. Rick Snyder makes it to the Feb. 28 ballot.

And, as Political Analyst Jack Lessenberry notes, the state knows a thing or two about so-called meddling in presidential primaries. “There would be the chance that Democrats and independents might show up in Michigan’s GOP primary, “ Lessenberry explains. “That happened in the year two thousand, when they helped John McCain give George W. Bush a whipping. If you have any kind of primary, stuff like that is pretty hard to prevent, since we have no party registration in Michigan. A Democrat can vote Republican or vice-versa, with no penalty. The alternative is some kind of closed convention, or caucus, but that limits public participation, which also could hurt the GOP, since primary campaigns help introduce the candidates to the voters.”

Meanwhile, Mark Brewer, Chairman of the Michigan Democratic Party, announced yesterday that there will be no presidential primary election for Michigan Democrats in 2012. From the AP:

Brewer… said national convention delegates will be picked through party meetings around the state, starting next May. President Barack Obama, a Democrat, is expected to run unopposed for a second term next year. Brewer says Michigan Democrats will hold caucuses in May at approximately 200 locations. He says more than 200 people will be delegates or alternates at the national convention.