Michigan Senate approves measure to move up primary

The Michigan Senate has approved a measure to move the state’s primary election up a couple weeks, from the second Tuesday in March to the fourth Tuesday in February, as part of Democrats’ push to reorganize the party’s primary schedule.

The bill passed 20-18 along party lines and would have Michigan become one of the first states to hold its primary for a presidential election, The Detroit Free Press reported Thursday.

“This bill uplifts the voice and vote of Michigan Democrats and Michigan Republicans, and gives every Michigander an early, deserving chance to choose the next president of the United States,” said state Sen. Jeremy Moss (D), the bill’s lead sponsor.

The measure must be passed by the state House and signed by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) before it can go into effect.

Its passage by the state Senate comes one day after the Democratic National Committee’s rules and bylaws committee unanimously voted to delay their finalization of the 2024 presidential primary calendar, as some states have signaled that they need more time to change the schedule of their contests.

President Biden has said he supports South Carolina becoming the first state to hold a primary, which would mix up the current schedule of Iowa holding the first caucus and New Hampshire holding the first primary for the first time in decades.

Under Biden’s plan, Nevada and New Hampshire would be the next states to hold a primary on the same day, Georgia would come next and then Michigan.

But some prominent New Hampshire Democrats have said they oppose the state losing its status as the first primary in the country, and New Hampshire and Georgia will likely need some Republican support to adjust their primary schedules.

The Detroit Free Press reported that the GOP’s national rules are different than Democrats’, and Michigan Senate Minority Leader Aric Nesbitt (R) said Michigan moving its primary earlier in the calendar would likely lead to the national party penalizing the state party.

“If the Michigan primary takes place before March 1 of next year, Republicans would lose about 85 percent of the Republican delegates to the national convention,” Nesbitt said. “We had 72 delegates in 2020, and we’d go down to 13 delegates next year.”

The Free Press reported that state Senate rules require bills to have two-thirds support to go into effect immediately, and the bill would not go into effect until 90 days after the end of the legislative session without that amount of support. This would likely cause the bill to not take effect until after the 2024 primary.

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