Saturday, August 13, 2011

MI GOP State Committee chooses "closed" (actually open) primary

The state committee went with an "closed" primary. I'm not surprised at this. Usually the full committee goes with the policy committee recommendations. My problem with this is as follows. One is that this is in reality an OPEN primary. Anyone can come in, declare themselves to be a republican on the SAME DAY as the election, and vote. I'd be much less opposed to this if there is separate registration 30-60 days before this primary and force voters to make an effort. I think this is going to be a disaster. I think a lot of people support this by its name until they find out that this isn't closed. Most republicans I know support actual closed primaries. Most democrats I know support the same thing on their side. They don't want a Fieger 98 repeat, just as we don't want McCain 2000 repeat.

The problem with a "closed" but really open primary is that it only works if there are actual contested elections the same day. If Obama had a strong challenger, this could work - if the democrats were not using a caucus in 2012, as they did in 2004. Even Kevin Shopshire can vote in the Republican primary if he chose a Republican ballot, which is the only ballot there. I don't blame him if he does do this. He doesn't have a contest on his side. I'm sure there was some cross voting in the past. Geoffrey Fieger in 98, McCain in 2000, and Rick Snyder in 2010 are examples of it.

One of the biggest reasons state party supports this is to get a list. That's nice, but if you have a 20% crossover list like in 2000, that's a lot of money and time going to waste. In 08, the crossovers were estimated at about 7-8%. That's with a contest on both sides.

I'm not opposed to this as a "stop Romney" campaign. In fact, I was told by someone I respect on state committee (who is undecided as I am) that he thinks Romney would win a convention easily. I prefer a caucus, but still would rather have a convention than an open primary, even if Mitt Romney was guaranteed to win it. If he won a convention, he earned it by getting republican votes. My preferences are caucus, a true closed primary, county conventions, state conventions, and open primary in that order. It's the process that's important. Republicans should choose the republican nominee. Democrats should choose their nominee. 3rd parties should choose their nominee. Independents should vote in the general election or better yet, join a party and get active. I was a conservative independent for years. I understand how tough it is to join the party since the "I" label makes you feel good, but there's more than can done within a party structure than outside of the structure.

Lastly, one of the good things about the party system in Michigan, at least among republicans, is that it is a fair system. Precinct delegate is an elected position (open spots are filled). Delegates choose their county executive committee. Delegates choose representatives to state convention where district committee and state committee members are chosen, as well as party chairs and vice chairs. If you want to make a difference in the party, show up at the meetings, talk to people in the party, run for precinct delegate, and be active. Maybe in 2016 or 2020, we can have a caucus ready for implementation.

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