Washington (CNN) – It's no secret that most Democratic strategists consider Mitt Romney the GOP contender who poses the biggest threat to President Obama. It's also no secret that Michigan, the state where Romney grew up, is a must win for him.
Combine those two dynamics, add in the fact that any registered voter is allowed to vote in Michigan's open primary, and you get a recipe for Democrats to make mischief.
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Michigan Democratic strategist Joe DiSano has taken it upon himself to become a leading mischief maker.
DiSano says he targeted nearly 50,000 Democratic voters in Michigan through email and a robo call to their homes, asking them to go to the polls Tuesday to vote for Rick Santorum in attempt to hurt Romney.
"Democrats can get in there and cause havoc for Romney all the way to the Republican convention," DiSano told CNN.
"If we can help set that fire in Michigan, we have a responsibility to do so," he said.
Santorum is statistically tied with Romney in Michigan polls, and has the greatest potential of all the Republican candidates to beat Romney.
In his robo call, DiSano says "Democrats can embarrass Mitt Romney and expose him as the weak frontrunner that he is, by supporting Rick Santorum on Tuesday."
He asks the person to "press one…if you are committed to voting for Rick Santorum on Tuesday."
DiSano says over the last 7 days or so that he has been working on this, he has gotten some 12,000 commitments from Democratic voters to go to the polls and vote for Santorum.
He says the Michigan Democratic Party has not endorsed his efforts, but they haven't asked him to stop either.
DiSano insists he is a "lone wolf" in this quest to hurt Romney, bearing what he calls a minimal cost, himself.
He got the names from voters rolls collected from past and current Democratic clients in the state.
Santorum's campaign, meanwhile, confirmed it was also using a robo call urging Michigan Democrats to cross over and vote for Santorum on Tuesday.
Michigan Democratic Chairman Mark Brewer insists to CNN that the party is not actively encouraging so-called Democratic crossover voting, but says Michigan Democrats have a history of doing so.
"I fully expect that will happen," Brewer said.
He also called chatter on Democratic blogs and website pushing Michigan Democrats to vote for Santorum "encouraging."
Some in Michigan credit Democrats for delivering Michigan for John McCain in 2000 in effort to hobble George W. Bush, the Republican frontrunner that year.
Seventeen percent of voters who identified themselves as Democrats voted in the 2000 Republican primary. Eighty five percent of those went for John McCain, who won Michigan by little more than 100,000 votes in a surprising victory over Bush.
The DailyKos, a leading liberal blog, started a campaign earlier this month to get its readers to vote in open primaries, beginning with Michigan.
"The longer this thing drags out, the more unpopular the Republican presidential pretenders become," says the blog.
"Mitt Romney has been unable to stem the bleeding despite his tens of millions. Just imagine Santorum, with the far more radical record and a continued inability to raise real money. It's a no-brainer!"
Still, Michigan Republican party spokesman Matt Frendeway downplayed the idea of Democratic voters having a real impact on the states GOP primary contest.
"I don't think this will move the needle at all," Frendeway told CNN. "I think it speaks volumes, that a Democrat is severely concerned about the weakness of the president, if they're trying to organize people to vote for the so-called 'weakest candidate' or cause mischief."
He also called the DiSano's claim that 12,000 Democratic voters would come out for Rick Santorum, "an inflated, inaccurate number."
DiSano responded that "GOP insiders will do or say anything to protect Mitt Romney."
"Whether I turn out 20 voters or 20,000 voters tomorrow the fact remains that Romney is badly damaged and in the fight of his life," said DiSano.
Romney's campaign began fundraising off the robe calls Monday night, sending an email asking supporters to donate and "help Mitt fight back against the Democrats' dirty tactics."
"This is politics at its worst," the email said. "It doesn't get much more pathetic."
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