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Michigan GOP starts process to drop presidential primary, opt for caucuses

 michigan state capitol on a mostly clear day
Megan Schellong

The Michigan Republican Party is taking steps toward dropping out of next year’s presidential primary election. State party leaders want to use county caucuses to select delegates to the Republican National Convention.

A handful of delegates could still be awarded based on the results of the February 27 primary, but the bulk would be apportioned based on congressional district caucuses in early March.

The Michigan GOP’s action is in response to a new law adopted by Democrats in the Legislature and signed by Governor Gretchen Whitmer in February. Democrats say the new, earlier primary date will give Michigan more influence over choosing the nominees.

The proposed system would avert sanctions for violating the Republican National Committee’s election schedule, which puts other state primaries in front of Michigan.

“We will be in violation of their schedule for the presidential primary and, therefore, we will receive a penalty,” Michigan Republican Party Chair Kristina Karamo said. “The 55 delegate votes that we should get at the RNC convention, we will only get 12.”

But even some Republicans aren’t happy with caucuses as the alternative. They see it as a set-up to give an edge to former President Donald Trump over other Republican candidates. They say an open primary with more voters participating gives the GOP a better shot at choosing a nominee acceptable to the general electorate in November.

Michigan’s 16 electoral votes helped 2020 Democratic nominee Joe Biden unseat Republican President Donald Trump. Biden won Michigan 50.6 % to Trump’s 47.8 %.

Rick Pluta is Senior Capitol Correspondent for the Michigan Public Radio Network. He has been covering Michigan’s Capitol, government, and politics since 1987. His journalism background includes stints with UPI, The Elizabeth (NJ) Daily Journal, The (Pontiac, MI) Oakland Press, and WJR. He is also a lifelong public radio listener.
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