October 24th, 2007
03:00 PM ET
13 years ago

Levin adds to primary chaos

Levin is threatening to move Michigan's primary to the same day as New Hampshire.

WASHINGTON (CNN) - If you thought the presidential primary calendar chaos couldn’t get any worse, you were wrong.

Sen. Carl Levin, D-Michigan, Wednesday threatened to hold his state’s primary contest on the same day as the New Hampshire primary. Levin, who has long argued against New Hampshire’s status as the first primary state, told the Politico Web site that he’ll move the Michigan date up in order to end what he calls the Granite State’s “cockamamie” first in the nation role.

Michigan recently moved its primary up to January 15, forcing New Hampshire to hold its contest no later than January 8th. New Hampshire state law dictates that it holds the primary one week earlier than any similar event.

New Hampshire Secretary of State Bill Gardner, the man who decides when the state’s primary will be held, has said for weeks that he’s prepared to move the New Hampshire primary to December to keep his state first. Gardner did move up the filing period for the candidates to get their names on the ballot. The White House hopefuls now must file by November 2. That could allow Gardner to hold the primary in December, if needed.

An aide to Levin later told CNN the Michigan Democrat thinks his state should abide by the rules if the other states do. But if other states successfully seek to hold their primaries earlier, Levin thinks Michigan should do the same, according to the aide. But the aide added the decision ultimately rests with Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm.

Reacting to Levin's comments Wednesday, Gardner told CNN he is taking a wait-and-see attitude, but acknowledged holding the Granite State's primary in December is a real possibility.

"I need to just wait and and see what actually happens rather than–there are too many unknowns at the moment," Gardner said. "It's always been my preference that the New Hampshire primary be in the year that a president gets elected but it's not what I prefer that matters. It's the state law that matters and if need be, we could end up in the previous year and our law has that phrase in it that it could be the previous year if necessary - And it could be."

Michigan and Florida, which moved its primary to January 29, have both been penalized by the national political parties for their moves. The Democratic Party is threatening not to seat any of the delegates from either state at their presidential convention next year. The Republicans are threatening not to seat half of the delegates from those two states.

Levin and other Michigan Democrats have long argued that New Hampshire, because of its demographics, doesn’t deserve its status as the first primary state. New Hampshire is prominently white. But New Hampshire argues that it deserves the role because the state is small and easily accessible to the candidates, and because New Hampshire residents are experienced at questioning and holding the candidates accountable.

- CNN Deputy Political Director Paul Steinhauser

Filed under: Michigan • New Hampshire
soundoff (31 Responses)
  1. Robb, New York

    Has Washington gone completely insane? What is wrong with these politicians that they have to hold their primaries first? Why do they feel it necessary to stroke their own egos? It's like a bunch of spoiled bratty kids fighting for the front seat on the way to Grandma's. Enough already! There are more important things to worry about than when to hold presidential primaries. Let New Hampshire be first, and let them vote at a decent time the way they used to– March. This whole thing has gotten completely out of hand, and nobody is sane enough in Washington to say enough.

    October 24, 2007 06:36 pm at 6:36 pm |
  2. John Adkisson, Sacramento, California

    It never ceases to amaze me how dumb smart people can be.

    What a ridiculous idea to mess up the primary schedule when Levin's own friends and colleagues are running for president, and have been planning and organizing in Iowa and New Hampshire for almost a year.

    If this was so important, shouldn't it have been addressed between election years, and not right on the verge of the primaries? The same goes for Nelson of Florida - what are you thinking?

    October 24, 2007 08:14 pm at 8:14 pm |
  3. demwit

    Hey!! Heres a novel idea....
    Why doesn't everyone just vote on the same day.

    October 24, 2007 08:20 pm at 8:20 pm |
  4. Mark R. Fort Lauderdale FL

    While I agre the system needs fixing, I don't this is the way to do it. Levin is acting like a petulant child.

    October 25, 2007 01:46 am at 1:46 am |
  5. Jen, Ann Arbor, MI

    Perhaps it's naive of me, but I just don't understand why all the states can't have their primaries at the same time. Regardless, if we do have our Dem primary moved up and most of the candidates boycott it (which they seem to be doing) they've essentially made my vote even more meaningless than it already felt like. Bad move.

    October 25, 2007 09:38 am at 9:38 am |
  6. George, Billerica, Mass.

    Any State voting before another disenfranchises voters somewhere. Having one, two, or even ten States determine the candidates is ridiculous and utterly undemocratic. A national primary system is needed, with either instant runoff (preferential ballots), or subsequent runoff elections until a candidate gets a majority. Let the parties elect delegates, based on the first vote, to a national convention if they so desire. (Notice how the two major parties talk about change, but neither will step up and push for any real change on any issue, especially the electoral process.)

    October 25, 2007 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
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