WASHINGTON – Michigan officially crashed the early primary party Tuesday, setting up showdowns with both political parties and likely pushing the presidential nomination calendar closer to 2007.
Gov. Jennifer Granholm signed a bill moving both of Michigan’s presidential primaries to Jan. 15. Michigan’s move threatens to set off a chain reaction that could force Iowa and New Hampshire to reschedule their contests even earlier than anticipated, perhaps in the first week in January or even December 2007.
The national parties have tried to impose discipline on the rogue states. On the Republican side, states that schedule contests before Feb. 5 risk losing half their delegates to next summer’s convention, though some are banking that whoever wins the GOP nomination will eventually restore the delegates.
Democrats have experienced similar problems, but party officials hoped they had stopped the mad dash to move up by threatening to strip Florida of all its convention delegates for scheduling a primary on Jan. 29 and by persuading the major Democratic candidates to campaign only in the party-approved early states.
Michigan, in moving up its primary, faces a similar penalty from the Democratic National Committee.
Tuesday was the deadline for states to submit to the Republican National Committee the dates and formats of their primaries or caucuses. It might not turn out to be much of a deadline because some states are continuing to jockey for earlier votes.
Michigan was among at least seven states signaling their intention to flout Republican rules by scheduling presidential primaries or caucuses before Feb. 5.
New Hampshire, initially scheduled to hold its primary Jan. 22, did not submit a date because it is waiting to see when others schedule their votes. State law requires New Hampshire to hold its primary at least seven days before any other primary.
Iowa scheduled its caucuses for Jan. 14, and South Carolina set its GOP primary for Jan. 19. But both reserved the right to reschedule if they are leapfrogged. Wyoming plans to hold county conventions to choose delegates Jan. 5, and Nevada scheduled caucuses for Jan. 19, party officials said.