March 14, 2008 in Nation/World

Michigan Democrats in talks to hold new primary election

Kathy Barks Hoffman Associated Press
 
Associated Press photo

Florida Democratic Party Chairwoman Karen Thurman discusses their latest plan for a “do-over” presidential primary Thursday. Associated Press
(Full-size photo)

LANSING, Mich. – Michigan Democrats are close to an agreement with presidential candidates Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama to hold a do-over primary.

Party officials and the campaigns negotiated on Thursday, and state Democratic leaders were hopeful that an agreement could be reached today, said Democratic officials. To go forward, any plan would require the approval of the two campaigns, the Democratic National Committee, state party leaders and Gov. Jennifer Granholm, who is backing Clinton.

Michigan Democrats need to act quickly because the politically divided legislature will have to sign off on the deal and approve how to spend the privately raised funds for a new election. Members of the Democrat-controlled state House and Republican-controlled state Senate leave at the end of the month on their two-week spring break.

The contest must be held by June 10 for the results to count under DNC rules.

The Clinton campaign made it clear during the meeting that it strongly prefers a state-run primary to mail-in voting, according to a campaign official. People involved in the private meeting said the Clinton advisers favor the state-run primary because there would be less likelihood of problems such as fraud and ballot counting than with a mail-in vote.

The national party punished Michigan and Florida for moving up their primaries before Feb. 5, stripping them of all their delegates. The two states have been struggling to come up with alternative plans to ensure their delegates are seated at the national convention this summer in Denver.

Michigan held its primary Jan. 15 and Florida voted Jan. 29. Clinton won both, although she was the only major candidate on the Michigan ballot.

On Thursday, Florida Democrats proposed a vote-by-mail presidential primary while acknowledging the plan’s chances are slim.

Karen Thurman, chairwoman of the Florida Democratic Party, offered a mail-in/in person proposal for voting and urged state leaders, the national party and the presidential candidates to sign on. Under the plan, all of Florida’s 4.1 million Democrats would be mailed a ballot. They could send it back, or cast a ballot in one of 50 regional voting centers that would be set up.

Asked if the plan will be implemented, Thurman said, “I have a feeling that this is probably closer to not, than yes.”

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