Michigan Democratic Party opts for March 8 primary; Delegate Selection Plan open for public comments

The Michigan Democratic Party has released its draft Delegate Selection Plan for the 2016 Democratic National Convention, which will center on a March 8 presidential primary. The Plan itself has a lot to it, including procedural guarantees (i.e. nondiscrimination clauses); how delegate spots are allocated to presidential candidates; and specific rules on how the process of electing delegates works. (If it seems like there's a lot of legal-ese, it's because the DNC requires it in each state's delegate selection plan.)

The plan also calls for processes and efforts to ensure participation by Democrats of various races and ethnicities, as well as young, LGBT, and disabled Democrats. It also calls for education on the delegate selection process, as well as opportunities for financial support for less well-off Democrats who'd like to attend.

Under the rules, Michigan will have a total of 152 delegates:

  • 19 "Superdelegates," which include members of Congress and the Democratic National Committee;
  • 17 Party Leader and Elected Official (PLEO) delegates, elected by State Central on June 11, 2016;
  • 29 At-Large Delegates, elected by State Central right after PLEOs are elected; and
  • 87 District-level delegates apportioned to congressional districts according to how well the Democrats do in those districts. They'll be elected at district conventions on May 21, 2016.

Holding the primary in conjunction with the Republican primary offers a number of advantages:

  • We'll potentially have some influence. Iowa, new Hampshire, South Carolina, and Nevada all go in February; the rest of the states can go March 1 or later. There are incentives for states to go after April 1 - and Michigan took advantage of such incentives in 2012 and may again in 2020. But while other states go later, Michigan will likely have a say in the event that the nomination isn't settled by early March.
  • We can test GOTV strategies and tactics.
  • It'll save us money and effort on holding a caucus - money and effort that will instead go toward electing Democrats.
  • We'll be compliant with the DNC's rules regarding timing. Never forget or repeat 2008.
  • We'll have more data. As I mentioned recently, if both parties have a competitive primary, then
    Democratic voters who may have in the Democratic primary, providing more accurate clues as to the voter's actual political leanings. (Given the choice between two competitive primaries, you're probably going to choose the party with which you more closely align.

    Not that there won't be any crossover - there's usually some - but it will be minimal, and the odds are against Michigan being part of another Operation Hilarity. Phone banks and polls only go so far in deterring who's a Democrat and who isn't.

The plan will be formally approved at the April 25 State Central Committee meeting in Grand Rapids - but not before a public comment period. Under Delegate Selection Rule 1.C, all public comments must be received for 30 days and submitted to the DNC Rules and Bylaws Committee, which then goes through each state's plan with a fine tooth comb.

Public comments may be submitted to midemparty@michigandems.com.

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