Michigan Democrats said Wednesday they'll pick their presidential favorite in 2012 through a May 5 caucus, avoiding the national party threats, candidate withdrawals and talk of a "do-over" that came after they moved up their 2008 primary to Jan. 15 in spite of party rules.
President Barack Obama is likely to be the only candidate on the Democratic primary, so an expensive, publicly financed primary doesn't make sense, state Democratic Chairman Mark Brewer said Wednesday. The party will pay for the caucus, which will take place in different locations around the state that Saturday.
"We'll be able to do it very, very cheaply," he predicted, especially since the party won't bother with having activists vote by mail or over the Internet as it did in 2004. The party doesn't even plan to print ballots, instead relying on a show of hands at the various caucus sites. Obama, who will be running for a second term, is expected to win easily.
"If you want to vote for somebody else, that's fine. It's a democracy. But Obama's our guy," Brewer said.
Michigan law now sets the joint 2012 presidential primary for Tuesday, Feb. 28, and would have to be changed to allow the Democrats to hold their 2012 caucus on May 5, Brewer said.
Republicans, who will have a number of candidates running for the chance to take on Obama in the presidential race, could still hold their primary on that date, although it would violate the schedule set up by the two national parties for presidential primaries and caucuses.
A call to Michigan Republican Party spokesman Matt Davis Wednesday evening requesting comment on the party's plans was not immediately returned.
The Republican and Democratic national committees have agreed on a schedule that would begin the 2012 nominating process next February, when Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada would hold primaries and caucuses. Other states couldn't hold a primary or caucus before March 6.
Brewer said Michigan Democrats would gain more delegates to the national convention in Charlotte, North Carolina, by waiting until May to hold their presidential contest. He didn't know exactly how many, but said an incentive system adopted by the DNC will make the delegation the largest ever for Michigan Democrats.
Back in 2008, both parties had contested presidential nominations. Michigan and Florida held their primary contests in January, contrary to the national party's rules, saying they wanted to be more relevant in the presidential selection process.
Obama and most of the other top-tier Democratic candidates except Hillary Clinton pulled out of Michigan's primary in protest. Although Clinton won the Florida and Michigan primaries, she got no delegates from those victories until a May compromise was reached that gave Obama a share of Michigan's delegates even though he had taken his name off the Jan. 15 ballot.
Both states briefly considered holding "do-over" elections, but cost and logistics scuttled those ideas.
The RNC told Michigan and Florida before the 2008 primaries that they'd lose half their delegates if they didn't comply with party rules, while the DNC said the states would lose all their delegates. Both states eventually got all their Democratic delegates seated at the Denver convention, while all the Republican delegates were allowed to attend their convention in St. Paul, Minn., but only half got to vote.